Perhaps the most surprising thing about YouTube’s launch of a Snapchat-like Stories feature is that it’s taken this long to do it.
Following Snapchat’s huge success with Stories — a feature that compiles a slideshow of the things you’ve done in any given day — rival social media apps were much quicker than YouTube to roll out a similar feature. Instagram didn’t even bother coming up with a new name for its own effort, calling it “Stories,” just like the original; WhatsApp, on the other hand, called its version “Status.”
YouTube said on Wednesday it’s now testing “Reels,” described by the company’s senior product manager, Roy Livne, as “YouTube’s spin on the popular ‘stories’ format, but designed specifically for YouTube creators.”
Most notably, that means Reels will be available to view beyond the 24-hour time period that sees them removed from rivals’ versions of the feature. So a Reel will stay on the site for YouTubers to enjoy, unless the creator decides to delete it, of course.
“We’re also bringing creator-focused features like linking to YouTube videos and YouTube-y stickers [to Stories],” Livne wrote in a post on Wednesday, adding that Reels is currently in beta to allow the team to “learn and improve the product before expanding to more creators.”
A brief GIF preview of the feature shows a user flicking through thumbnails of their videos that can be added to an existing Reel, or be selected to create a new one.
Beyond a few short notes, Livne reveals few other details about Reels, but anyone familiar with Snapchat Stories, or others like it, will know exactly what to expect.
If Reels becomes anywhere near as popular as Snapchat Stories or its clones, then it’s sure to have a hit on its hands. Snapchat introduced the feature in 2013, two years after the launch of the app. Instagram launched its own version in August 2016, and within nine months the Facebook-owned company reported that 200 million users were taking it for a spin, with lots of business — not just individual users — also making use of the feature.
In other YouTube news, Livne announced it was expanding its social-networking Community platform to all creators that have more than 10,000 subscribers. The Google-owned company started testing Community in 2016 as a social space for creators “to connect with fans in-between uploads with polls, pictures, text, GIFs, and more.”