YouTube is launching a rival to TikTok - here's everything we know about it so far

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 11:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 11:43 am
YouTube have launched a short-video product to rival TikTok (Photo: Shutterstock)

YouTube has announced that it will be launching a beta trial of its new product, YouTube Shorts, which the video platform hopes will rival social media firm TikTok’s dominance of the short video market.

In a blog post, YouTube's vice president of product management, Chris Jaffe, said Shorts is "for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.”

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How will it work?

Like TikTok, YouTube Shorts will enable users to upload videos lasting 15 seconds or less, using a new set of tools which offer more flexibility and creativity than the existing options for creating content on YouTube. These will include a multi-segment camera, which will allow users to string separate clips together, as well as speed controls, a timer and a countdown feature.

Creators will also be able to set their videos to music, and will have access to a large collection of songs through YouTube’s library, which the company says will grow over time.

To watch the Shorts, YouTube has created a new viewing option which will let users swipe through the videos vertically, similar to TikTok.

When will it be available?

YouTube Shorts will initially only be available in India, where the government banned TikTok along with a number of other Chinese apps after border tensions boiled over between the nations in June. Prior to the ban, India was TikTok’s largest foreign market, with around 120 million estimated users.

The company has not released any timeline for when the YouTube Shorts service will be available in other countries. However, it is reportedly intending to roll it out across many other markets at some point.

Plenty of competition

The launch of YouTube Shorts follows the introduction of Instagram’s TikTok rival, known as Reels, and Snapchat’s equivalent earlier this year.

Many tech companies have sought to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding TikTok’s access to overseas markets, as uneasy diplomatic relations have already created problems for the Chinese-owned tech firm in India, the USA, and Sweden, where public broadcasters have advised staff not to download the app to their personal devices.

The Times reported last month that, in the UK, Boris Johnson’s advisers have been “split” on his decision to allow TikTok to move its headquarters to London, with some saying he should actively encourage the move. Others think he should avoid the topic, as part of a harder diplomatic stance toward China. A source told The Times the situation is “very sensitive.”