YouTube wants a piece of TikTok’s pie.
While it has long been the uncontested king of video sharing platforms, YouTube has had a large chunk of audience siphoned away in recent years by up-and-comer TikTok. With a combination of trendy advertising and viral dancing memes, TikTok’s shortform video model has successfully appealed to younger, trendier audiences (in a similar way Vine did back in the day, if anyone still remembers that). In an effort to win back the young’uns, YouTube has released its own shortform video platform, aptly named YouTube Shorts.
Yesterday, YouTube expanded the open beta version of YouTube Shorts to the United States after a lengthy testing period exclusive to India. All users have been able to view Shorts videos for a while, but now all users will be able to create them as well. As YouTube explained in a statement, the idea of Shorts users is to “shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.”
In addition to capturing video, the Shorts app also features quick clip editing, easy music overlaying, and a built-in countdown timer and stopwatch to facilitate hands-free recording. If you’re a user of TikTok, these features will sound familiar, as Shorts has cribbed all of them. However, according to YouTube, Shorts will have a few additional features to differentiate itself from TikTok. For instance, Shorts will allow users to sample and remix audio from other Shorts videos, as well as add text overlays at specific points in a video’s runtime.
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“YouTube made it so that a whole generation of people using cameras and computers and video editing software could practice their craft and build an audience,” YouTube Shorts product lead Todd Sherman told CNN Business. “That story is very similar to the story of what we’re doing with Shorts once again, except now it’s all based on the phone and what you can get done inside of a phone.”