With TikTok’s fate remaining bleak in the US, YouTube today announced the launch of a new short-form video experience called YouTube Shorts. This feature will allow users initially in India to upload short-form videos of 15 seconds or less in length using a new set of creation tools, including a multi-segment camera similar to TikTok, speed control, and a timer and countdown functionality. The videos can also be set to music as YouTube has access to a large library of songs that are said to keep growing over time.
The multi-segment camera allows users to join multiple video clips into one short clip. The other controls allow YouTube creators to be more creative than simply pressing a record button.
These are tools common in TikTok video recording today, and the same features Instagram recently cloned for its own TikTok rival known as Reels.
The feature will be highlighted in the YouTube app on Android and will expand to iOS over time.
According to YouTube, India – especially a large market where Chinese-owned TikTok is already banned – will be the first country to have access to YouTube Shorts when it launches. However, there are plans to bring the feature to more markets in time. However, YouTube didn’t offer a schedule of when this would happen.
With that in mind, YouTube will introduce a new watch experience that lets you swipe vertically through YouTube shorts – just like TikTok. The company has already added a new line to watch short videos on the YouTube homepage. Thanks to the new playback experience, it is now easier to view this content and also discover new short videos, according to YouTube.
YouTube announced its plans to begin testing a short-form video feature earlier this summer, but hadn’t given many details or even the name of the feature. At the time, YouTube had announced that the test would include recording 15-second videos on both iOS and Android, but only among a small group of developers.
The company made it clear to TechCrunch that this earlier experiment was part of the Shorts product and that a multi-segment camera was being experimented with around the world. What is new today, however, are the options for recording with music, speed control, and timer and countdown.
In addition, YouTube Shorts feature hundreds of thousands of tracks from partners like T-Series and Believe Digital. It also works with musicians, labels and publishers to get more of their content available in the YouTube Shorts catalog.
News of YouTube Shorts’ bigger launch will come when the M&A deadline on TikTok’s US operations ends. Microsoft has now announced that it will not be the buyer and reports that Oracle is winning the offer, but its deal is not structured as a direct sale.
TikTok’s potential exit had already seen many competing social platforms trying to promote TikTok users for their own app. Instagram, Snapchat, and now YouTube are among those looking to take advantage of TikTok’s instability to launch their own short-form video products. More direct TikTok competitors like Triller, Dubsmash, Byte, and others have also won some new customers.
According to YouTube, the new feature will be rolled out in India in the next few days. It characterizes YouTube Shorts as a test it wants to learn from, with the aim of expanding access and improving the product over time.
If you have access to the Shorts camera, you can start creating videos by clicking the plus sign (+) (or soon the video camera icon on iOS) and then selecting Video. If you see “Make a short video” as an option, you have the shorts camera. However, for Android users in India, the “Create” icon has been moved to the bottom of the navigation bar for easier access, according to YouTube.
Those without this feature can take part by marking their shorter videos (under 60 seconds) as #Shorts in the title or description. These will be tested along with other short vertical videos on the new YouTube homepage.