The explosive growth of TikTok over the past year has gotten the tech world’s full attention. Instagram just launched Reels, a rival offering, in the U.S. TikTok, whose U.S. operations are due to be overseen by Oracle in a deal just reached over the weekend, specializes in videos set to music and often featuring dance moves and quick cuts.
A beta version of Shorts will launch in India this week on Android, with iOS and other territories launching in the coming months.
Chris Jaffe, VP of Product Management for YouTube, wrote in a blog post that Shorts is designed for “creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones.”
He added that the first iteration in India “is an early version of the product, but we’re releasing it now to bring you — our global community of users, creators and artists — on our journey with us as we build and improve Shorts. We’ll continue to add more features and expand to more countries in the coming months as we learn from you and listen to your feedback.”
The platform includes speed controls, a timer and countdown, a library of songs to use for recording and a multi-segment camera to enable users to combine multiple video clips.
Jaffe noted YouTube itself began with a user-generated video lasting only 18 seconds, a “one giant leap for mankind” kind of breakthrough in 2005 titled “Me at the Zoo.”
“As technology advances, creators and artists can now take advantage of the incredible power of smartphones to easily create and publish high-quality content wherever they are in the world,” he wrote. “And people can be entertained and informed by bite-sized content in the spare minutes of the day.”
Here is a GIF demonstrating Shorts: