Back in April, The Information reported that YouTube was working on a new, TikTok-like, short-form video option that would live within YouTube, providing a new way for YouTubers to tap into the rising, 15-second clip trend.
Now, YouTube has released more information on the coming function. As reported by TechCrunch, YouTube has shared some new details on the option - which is reportedly called 'Shorts' - within its latest test notes.
As per YouTube:
"We’re testing out a new way for creators to easily record multiple clips directly in the YouTube mobile app and upload as one video. If you’re in this experiment, you’ll see an option to ‘create a video’ in the mobile upload flow. Tap or hold the record button to record your first clip, then tap again or release the button to stop recording that clip. Repeat these steps until you’re done capturing footage up to a maximum length of 15 seconds."
There's not a lot of detail to go on, and we don't know exactly what it will look like - and if, indeed, the UI will seek to replicate TikTok in any way. But the 15-second time limit, and multi-clip functionality, certainly sounds very TikTok-esque.
In The Information's original report on the option, it noted that:
"Shorts will include a feed of brief videos posted by users inside the Google-owned app and will take advantage of the video service’s catalog of licensed music, songs from which will be available to use as soundtracks for the videos created by users."
So 15-second clips, with a focus on setting them to music. It's fairly clear that YouTube is eyeing TikTok's core functions, and looking to negate the growth of the app. This also comes as Instagram expands its TikTok clone functionality 'Reels' into more regions, another move designed to halt TikTok's expansion.
What's particularly interesting, in both cases, is that neither YouTube nor Instagram is launching a new, separate app for this purpose. Instead, both are using their biggest advantage over TikTok, in their massive audience reach. That could give each offering more traction, while also helping to keep users from being sucked into the TikTok vortex.
TikTok's UI works particularly well because of its compulsion - once you're in TikTok, it's very easy to go through a stream of different clips, and drift down rabbit holes of hashtag trends, dragging you deeper into the app experience.
Both YouTube and Instagram are clearly aware of this - while keeping these new functions within their main apps will also mean that they can use their existing monetization tools as a lure to keep top creators from seeking to stay on trend by jumping over to another app for such - or maybe it will provide an avenue for repurposing TikTok content, maximizing upload opportunities. TikTok, as yet, does not have an advanced monetization offering for creators.
With such limited info, however, it's difficult to say whether YouTube's version will work. It makes sense, and it plays to YouTube's strengths. But will users want to watch short clips in their YouTube stream?
Time will tell. Right now, YouTube's rolling out the test to a small subset of users on both Android and iOS, before deciding whether to move forward with the experiment.