The move by YouTube to copy TikTok comes as the future of TikTok remains uncertain. Oracle emerged as the top bidder to become the “technology partner” for TikTok, under a deal that requires the approval of the Trump administration. The U.S. government has forced ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent, to divest the app business’ assets in the United States citing national security.
The introduction of YouTube Shorts also comes after Facebook’s Instagram last month launched Reels, with video creation tools very similar TikTok.
YouTube Shorts will debut starting in India over the next few days as an “early beta” with a “handful of new creation tools,” according to Chris Jaffe, YouTube VP of product management. (Currently, TikTok is banned in India amid a wider dispute between the country and China.)
YouTube Shorts is “a new short-form video experience right on YouTube for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones,” Jaffe wrote in a blog post.
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Like TikTok, the YouTube Shorts tool features a multi-segment camera to edit multiple video clips together, and will feature a library of songs to include as backing tracks for videos. Also mimicking TikTok, YouTube Shorts includes speed controls that “give you the flexibility to be creative in your performance” as well as a timer and countdown “to easily record, hands-free,” according to Jaffe.
Ahead of the rollout of YouTube Shorts, the video platform has added a row on the YouTube homepage designed for short videos. Starting Monday, it’s also introducing a new watch experience that will let users swipe vertically from one video to the next (like TikTok) as well as discover other similar short videos (a core TikTok feature).
YouTube’s very first video ever, uploaded in 2005, was an 18-second video called “Me at the zoo,” Jaffe noted.
“As technology advances, creators and artists can now take advantage of the incredible power of smartphones to easily create and publish high-quality content wherever they are in the world,” Jaffe wrote. “And people can be entertained and informed by bite-sized content in the spare minutes of the day.”