The future of TikTok in the US is far from certain. Microsoft, Walmart or Oracle could save the day by buying the company, TikTok could win its lawsuit, or China’s new restrictions could stop everything – but everything could fail. Just like Vine before, TikTok might only be on its way out for opposite reasons. But will it matter if TikTok is banned in the US? Probably not with the competition.
Believe it or not, TikTok is not The only short-form video app on the market. Far from it. In fact, there are more apps out there than necessary. Some are certainly Rush jobs to compete with TikTok, but the ones that are not quite good and most of all varied. And not all are just trying to be TikTok clones ̵
While there are already apps worth your time, you should know that more are on the way. Why shouldn’t there be? Short videos are clearly popular and people want to join them. And with TikTok in jeopardy, there is likely to be more and more space at the top.
Look at India. The country banned TikTok long before the US even considered it. The market would not just sit back and leave a nation of 1.35 billion people. So now there is one Your of apps out there competing for that audience. While we cover some of these apps below, many are unlikely to connect to a U.S. audience just yet.
App 1: Instagram (roles)
If you’re into social media, you probably already know Reels. To show how fast the short video market is moving, reels wasn’t even a thing when the government first put a potential TikTok ban. At least not in the US
We have known Reels for a while. Instagram decided to test its TikTok-like feature outside of the US to begin, but it’s here in all its glory now. Since it’s so new in the US, Reels is evolving almost every day as Instagram tinkers with how it looks and works across the app.
There are two main goals that Reels pursues. First, Instagram enormously User base, including a number of well-known participants. Second, a good selection of effects. There is no better recipe for replicating TikTok’s success than one amount of the people who create content and give us the tools to make videos fun and engaging.
That said, it still has a lot to do. My biggest problem at the moment is the lack of concentration. Unlike TikTok, which contains an entire app for short videos, Reels is distributed on Instagram. You access the main feed via the Explore page, but you can also find roles in stories, in your main Instagram feed, etc. Saving and preferring roles is also not as straightforward as with TikTok.
The whole thing feels more like an afterthought than an actual, engaging short-form experience, but that doesn’t mean we’re giving up reels. With a little more development, Reels probably has the best chance of taking TikTok’s top spot here in the US
App 2: YouTube (short films)
One service to look out for is Shorts, YouTube’s answer to short videos. In some ways, it’s surprising that YouTube still doesn’t have this type of feature. After all, the site is both the grandfather and the king of self-produced internet videos. In fact, it’s the best place to find ancient vines if you’re that inclined.
We don’t know when YouTube will officially make Shorts, nor do we know how it will implement the feature. Will Shorts be a standalone app? Will YouTube integrate shorts into the YouTube app á la Instagram? Only time will tell, but The Information claims it will be the latter.
App 3: Facebook (lasso or short videos)
You might be surprised to learn that Facebook once had its own short video app, which has flown completely under the radar since its launch in late 2018. The company closed down on July 10, just before Reels launched.
While it looks like Facebook is completely done with the Lasso brand, there are some rumors that the app may reappear. Since Reels is a Facebook product, why should it create a competitor feature in its main app? Well, Facebook and Instagram are two completely different experiences and communities. Maybe the company will find out something.
According to TechCrunch, a new lasso iteration called “Short Videos” is already being tested in the big blue app, but currently only in India. Once Facebook polishes it up, it could hit the states shortly thereafter. Reels for Instagram was tested in late 2019, but it wasn’t until July 2020 when TikTok shut down there that it appeared in India. The next month it was a US feature, so we could watch about eight months or a month before it goes to the US – or it might not come at all.
App 4: trills
TikTok has a fair share of big names and celebrities. However, many of its alternatives are not mainstream enough to say the same thing. Trill is quite an exception. Once you open the app, you’ll find videos from A-list stars like Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg, and Mike Tyson. That’s because trills, like skits, serve as a TikTok for music videos.
- Install Triller – Social Video Platform: Android (Free) | iOS (free)
It’s not just big names, however, that flood the app. There are many native creators who create content for trills. You won’t have a problem mindlessly scrolling through videos for hours, mostly because the app does it for you. Unlike other apps that repeat videos over and over, Triller switches to the next video as soon as one is done. It’s by no means a bad system, but it just needs tweaking if you are used to letting video loop until you’re ready to move on.
Triller is definitely a popular app so there is no shortage of videos or commentary to spend your time on. What is interesting, however, is that the appearance of the app does not match the user base. The video, filter, and text quality feels a little less good than TikTok. These filters replace real effects, an important feature of TikTok.
However, it doesn’t matter how many users are using the app.
App 5: Dubsmash
Dubsmash is not a new app. It was launched in 2014 and was one of the pioneers in lip-syncing video. While you might still find lip-sync videos as you scroll through Dubsmash, you will be more familiar with TikTok. You can follow accounts to scroll or stick to the “For You” page, just like with TikTok.
Your biggest downside to switching to Dubsmash is the lack of effects. Unfortunately the app doesn’t have any, apart from a few basic filters. While TikTok gives you Adobe After Effects, Dubsmash is more about the raw video. That doesn’t mean you won’t find any creative content – but some of that content may just be ripped from TikTok.
Strange note? Dubsmash doesn’t seem to stop you. Why that is not clear, as it is the only app on this list that doesn’t let you stop playing a video without exiting entirely.
App 6: Byte
With all the talk about the lack of Vine (RIP Vine), it’s a bit of a surprise that Byte, an app developed by Vine’s creators, isn’t more popular.
Byte is a complete spiritual successor to Vine. You have your short videos, a friendly interface, and a focus on 15 seconds of entertainment. What I like about the app is the way it sorts the content into communities called “channels”. Unlike the usual hashtags in other apps, Byte breaks things down into useful, creative, and sometimes weird channels. Where else can you find a collection of videos called “Trash”?
One thing that speaks against Byte is the lack of users. It is very obvious that Byte has a much smaller population compared to TikTok. The humor is more niche, there are fewer comments, and it just feels a little emptier. That doesn’t mean the experience is Bad – It might be a little harder to find “mainstream” humor.
The service also takes the experience of creating videos to the core. There are no fancy video effects or filters here – just do your thing in front of the camera. The best thing you get is “experimental features” which are currently made up of floating text, floating photos, and floating GIFs. Byte seems to have an interest in things that “float”.
App 7: fireworks
Firework does something that no other app on this list than TikTok does: asks about your interests at the beginning. While it’s always nice to have someone take care of your interests, the real benefit is that the app recommends videos that match those interests. That way, you don’t have to go through the same videos that everyone sees from the start.
The other thing Firework has to offer is “Reveal”. Most short video apps are optimized for mobile devices, meaning that videos are recorded and viewed in portrait orientation (9:16 am). With Reveal you can shift the video aspect ratios At any timeby simply rotating your phone. The change is also done in real time, so you can see more scenes come into the frame when you turn your phone sideways.
Reveal only works for compatible videos because you can’t retroactively apply the effect to videos that weren’t recorded this way. All you would do is perfectly crop and zoom 9:16 video.
In all other respects, fireworks are a decent option. There’s a sizable user base here, and while you see a lot of stolen TikToks, there’s plenty of original Firework content to scroll through too.
It doesn’t end here
There are many, many short-form video apps on the App Store and Play Store. If the options above don’t do this for you, feel free to try them. However, some of the opportunities we’ve left out on this list don’t seem to have the same stamina or potential as TikTok for one reason or another.
Some apps seem a little cheap while others are underpopulated. That doesn’t mean they won’t be tremendous options in the future. If you want to keep an eye on these apps, here’s a good go:
You just know, this industry is certainly volatile. Two of the apps we looked at, Vigo Video and Chingari, have been removed from both the App Store and the Play Store at the time of this writing.
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