If you use Instagram or Snapchat, you’ve probably heard of Stories, which let you splice together images and video snippets to create, well, a story of your day. Taking to its blog, YouTube quietly announced ‘Reels,’ which look to be the service’s take on Stories, with TechCrunch noticing that and asking YouTube what is the same and what is different.
According to YouTube, Reels allow creators to share content without the need to craft a full, traditional YouTube video, reasoning that is not all too dissimilar from Instagram’s and Snapchat’s when it comes to Stories. It also bears mentioning that YouTube brought on Todd Sherman, who previously worked as lead product manager on Snapchat’s Stories.
As for what’s different, Reels will not have any sort of expiration date — they will permanently live in a tab separate from a creator’s main list of videos. Also, users can have several Reels, again with no expiration date on either of them. Even if they live in a separate tab, however, Reels have the possibility of appearing on your YouTube home page as recommendations, if you engage with them often enough.
The act of making Reels looks simple enough, with creators able to record a few videos of up to 30 seconds each. You can add filters, music, and text to the Reels, with creators able to also add some “YouTube-y” stickers and links to their other YouTube videos, according to YouTube’s Roy Livne.
Finally, users can engage with Reels as they would with regular YouTube videos — they can give the Reels a thumbs up or down, as well as comment on the posts.
With the possibility of Reels appearing on your recommendations and living in their own tab, it looks like the service wants to play it safe, at least from the get-go. YouTube would be smart to do so, but there is still risk — Stories for Facebook and Messenger got a cold reception, and some people might be vocal about their displeasure for Reels.
YouTube did not say when Reels will arrive in beta form, how long it will take until they become widely available, or which creators will get first dibs, but we’ll be sure to let you know when we learn more. For now, let us know in the comments if you think Reels will add or detract from your YouTube experience.