The future of TikTok in the United States is almost certain. Microsoft, Walmart or Oracle can save the day by buying the company, TikTok can win its lawsuit, or China’s new restrictions can stop everything – but everything can fail. Just like Vine before, TikTok could be on its way out, just for the opposite reasons. But does it matter if TikTok is banned in the states? With the competition warming up, probably not.
Believe it or not, TikTok is it not the only short-form video app on the market. Far from. In fact, there are more apps out there than necessary. Some are definitely rush jobs to compete with TikTok, but those who are not it is quite good and most importantly varied. And not everyone is just trying to be TikTok clones ̵1; some have a unique twist on things.
Even if there are already apps out there that are worth your time, you should know that there are more on the way. Why should it not exist? Short videos are definitely popular, and people want it. And with TikTok’s dominance in danger, there will probably be more and more space at the top.
Think of India. The country banned TikTok long before the United States considered doing so. The market would not just sit back and leave a nation of 1.35 billion people behind. So now there is one your of apps out there competing for that audience. While we cover some of these apps below, many will probably not connect to an American audience yet.
App 1: Instagram (scrolls)
If you’ve been involved in social media, you probably already know Reels. But in a notion of how fast the short video market continues to develop, Reels was not even one thing when the government first pulled out a potential TikTok ban. At least not in the United States
We have actually known about reels for some time. Instagram chose to test its TikTok-like feature outside the US to begin with, but it is here now, in all its glory. Because it’s so new in the US, Reels continues to evolve almost daily, as Instagram tips on how it looks and works throughout the app.
There are two main things that Reels has for it. First Instagram huge user base, including a lot of big name participants. Secondly, a good selection of effects. There is no better recipe for replicating TikTok’s success than having one pulp by people who make content and give us the tools to make videos fun and engaging.
That said, it still has ways to go. My biggest issue right now is the lack of focus. Unlike TikTok, which has an entire app dedicated to short videos, rolls are streamed all over Instagram. You get to the main feed via the Explore page, but you will also find scrolls in stories, on your main feed on Instagram and so on. Saving and promoting rolls is not as clear as on TikTok.
The whole thing feels more like an afterthought than a real, dedicated short-form experience, but that does not mean we give up on reels. With a little more development, Reels probably has the best shot to take over TikTok’s top position here in the USA
App 2: YouTube (shorts)
One service to look out for is Shorts, YouTube’s answer to short video. In a way, it’s surprising that YouTube still does not have this type of feature. After all, the site is both the grandfather and king of self-produced internet video. In fact, it is the best place to find old vines to binge on if you are so inclined.
We do not know when YouTube plans to make Shorts official, nor do we know how it will implement the feature. Will Shorts be a standalone app? Will YouTube integrate shorts into the YouTube app, on la Instagram? Only time will tell, but the information claims that it will be the latter.
App 3: Facebook (Lasso or short videos)
It may surprise you to learn that Facebook once had its own video app, which completely flew under the radar since its introduction at the end of 2018. The company closed the store on July 10, just before the launch of Reels.
Although it may seem that Facebook is completely done with the Lasso brand, there is talk that the app could be resumed. Since Reels is a Facebook product, why would it create a competing feature in its main app? Well, Facebook and Instagram are two very different experiences and communities, so maybe the company will figure something out.
According to TechCrunch, it is already testing a new iteration of Lasso called “Short Videos” in the big blue app, but that is only in India right now. Once Facebook has polished it up, it could hit the states shortly after that. The wheels for Instagram started testing at the end of 2019, but it was not shown in India until July 2020 when TikTok was shut down there. Next month it was an American function, so we can look at about eight months or a month before it comes to the United States – or it may never come at all.
App 4: Triller
TikTok has its fair share of big names and celebrities. However, many of the options are not common enough to say the same thing. Trills are a complete exception. As soon as you open the app, you will find videos from A-List stars, such as Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg and Mike Tyson. This is because Triller works like TikTok for music videos, as much as for skits.
- Install Triller – Social Video Platform: Android (free) | iOS (free)
However, it’s not just big names that are flooding the app. There are many homemade creators who make content for Triller. You have no problem without a mind to browse through videos for hours, mainly because the app does it for you. Unlike other apps, where videos go over and over again, Triller moves on to the next video as soon as one is finished. It’s not a bad system by any means, but it only takes adapting if you’m used to letting videos meander until you’re ready to go.
Triller is definitely a popular app, so there will be no shortage of videos or comments that you can spend your time on. What is interesting, however, is that the app’s appearance does not match its user base. The video, the filter and the text quality all feel a little less polished than something like TikTok. Instead of real effects, these filters are an important TikTok feature.
However, it does not matter, considering how many people use the app.
App 5: Dubsmash
Dubsmash is not a new app. Launched in 2014, it was one of the pioneers of lip-syncing videos. While you can still find lip-syncing videos by browsing through Dubsmash, you will also find more familiarity with TikTok. You can choose to follow accounts to browse through or stick to the For You page, just as you can with TikTok.
Your biggest downside to switching to Dubsmash is the lack of effects. Unfortunately, the app has none, save for some elemental filters. While TikTok gives you similar Adobe After Effects, Dubsmash is more about the raw video. This does not mean that you will not find any creative content – but some of that content can only be ripped from TikTok.
A strange note? Dubsmash does not seem to let you pause. Why it is not clear, because it is the only app on this list that does not allow you to stop playing a video without leaving it completely.
App 6: Byte
With all this talk about missing Vine (RIP Vine, for the record), it’s a little surprising that Byte, an app developed by the creator of Vine, is no longer popular.
Byte is a complete spiritual successor to Vine. You have your short videos, an easy-to-use interface and a focus on 15 seconds of entertainment. What I like about the app is how it sorts the content into groups called “channels”. Unlike regular hashtags on other apps, Byte breaks things down into useful, creative and sometimes comical channels. Where else can you find a collection of videos under the name “Trash?”
That said, one thing that goes 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 empty. That does not mean that the experience is bad – it can only be a little harder to find “ordinary” humor.
The service also removes the video-creating experience down to the core. There are no fancy video effects or filters here – just do your thing on camera. The best you get are “experimental features”, which right now consist of floating text, floating photos and floating GIFs. Exchange seems to be interested in things that “flow”.
App 7: Fireworks
Firework does something that no other app on this list does than TikTok does: ask about your interests in the beginning. While it’s always nice to have someone care about your interests, the real benefit is that the app recommends videos that match those interests. That way, you do not have to search through the same videos that everyone is watching right from the start.
The other thing that Firework has for it is “Reveal”. Most short video apps are optimized for mobile, which means videos are taken and displayed in portrait mode (9:16). Reveal allows you to change the image format anytime, just by turning the phone. The change also happens in real time so you can see more of the scene come into the frame when you turn the phone to the side.
Reveal only works for compatible videos because you cannot use the retroactive effect on videos that have not been recorded in this way. All you have to do is crop and zoom perfectly good 9:16 videos.
In all other respects, fireworks are a decent option. There is a large user base here, and while you see lots of stolen TikToks, there is plenty of fireworks original content to browse through as well.
It does not end here
There are many, many short-form video apps in the App Store and Play Store. If the options above do not work for you, feel free to check them out. However, some of the opportunities we have omitted from this list do not seem to have the same resilience or potential that TikTok has, for one reason or another.
Some apps seem a bit cheap, while others are underpopulated. This does not mean that they will not be formidable alternatives in the future. If you want to keep an eye on these apps, here you go:
Just know, this industry is really volatile. Two of the apps we watched, Vigo Video and Chingari, were removed from both the App Store and Play Store when they created this article.
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