YouTube is testing a new feature called “Reels” that, at least in concept, will be similar to the Stories you see every day on Snapchat and Instagram. According to TechCrunch, Reels will be given their own tab — separate from a creator’s main list of videos. YouTube’s reasoning for introducing them is not unlike what we’ve heard from Snap and Instagram: people want a way to share content without having to go the full mile and publish a traditional YouTube video. Reels are being tested among a small group of the site’s creators, and the company isn’t yet saying when this “new format” will be more widely rolled out.
YouTube is diverging from the typical Stories formula in several ways. Most notably, Reels won’t disappear after 24 hours or some other arbitrary amount of time. And YouTube will let users have multiple Reels — each with its own set of videos. That’s different from Instagram and Snapchat, where your temporary posts are part of one, centralized story.
TechCrunch says the process of making Reels is as follows: you shoot “a few quick mobile videos of up to 30 seconds each” and can spruce them up with the usual mix of filters or by adding music and text. “We’re also bringing creator-focused features like linking to YouTube videos and YouTube-y stickers,” YouTube’s Roy Livne said in a blog post.
YouTube giving into the Stories trend comes alongside the hire of Todd Sherman, who previously worked as lead product manager on Snapchat’s trend-setting version of the feature. It’s not clear if Sherman will be helming, in YouTube’s own words, the company’s “spin” on stories.
Some people will likely bemoan the idea of Reels invading the YouTube experience. But, at least during this initial beta phase, it sounds like users won’t be hit over the head with them through obnoxious placement at the top of the app or other ways of force-feeding the new feature to viewers. Only if users “engage with Reels” will YouTube possibly start displaying them in your main home tab recommendations, according to TechCrunch. “We’ll be experimenting with a beta version of Reels to learn and improve the product before expanding to more creators,” Livne said.