Right after India banned TikTok in July, Instagram introduced its competing product, Reels, in the country. The concept was the same, but the content simply lacked the fun and whimsy that creators on TikTok captured.
Also, one of my biggest annoyances with Reels was that I had to go to the Explore tab and find these short videos amongst other posts. I tried it a couple of times and then gave up.
At the launch, I asked why it didn’t have a separate tab for Reels, when short video had become such an engaging category. In response, Vishal Shah, VP of Product at Instagram, said the Explore tab was the natural choice for Reels, as it was how more than half of all users discovered content on the platform.
However, barely 45 days in, Instagram is introducing a special Reels button. The company has rolled it out for Android users in India. It has replaced the Explore button in the bottom bar; the Explore button has been shifted next to the DM button on the top bar.
While some people might find the rejig annoying at the start, I think it’s a clever step to get more people to watch short videos. I clicked on it right away, and while there were some unfunny clips as I scrolled through, I saw some amusing football videos and I was happy with that.
Prior to this, I only saw Reels when someone sent me one via DMs and I scrolled through after watching it. But now, there’s a chance that users will tap on that button occasionally in the hopes of discovering a weird rabbit hole to get lost in, just like on TikTok. Good design hack, Instagram.