YouTube is entering the race to usurp TikTok’s dominance in the short-form video space with YouTube Shorts, a new tool that will allow users to record and upload 15-second videos straight from their mobile phones.
This week, YouTube will launch an early beta of Shorts in India, which in late June banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese-owned apps, citing security concerns. Since the ban, the popularity of TikTok competitor Triller exploded in India, surging to No. 1 on Apple’s App Store in the country.
In its early beta launch in India, Shorts will boast a number of creation tools similar to those on TikTok and its competitors, including a multi-segment camera allowing users to string multiple videos together; the ability to incorporate music from a library of songs; speed controls; and a timer and countdown to allow for hands-free recording. Additional creation tools will be rolled out “in the coming months,” the company notes.
A blog post by YouTube vp product management Chris Jaffe announcing the tool emphasizes YouTube’s 2 billion monthly viewers and its long-running history of minting digital stars.
“Creators have built entire businesses on YouTube,” the post reads, “and we want to enable the next generation of mobile creators to also grow a community on YouTube with Shorts. We encourage any mobile creator or artist to start uploading their existing short videos on YouTube today to start getting discovered.”
At launch, YouTube Shorts will be available to Android users in India only, rolling out to iOS users and additional territories at some unspecified point in the future.
While YouTube users outside India don’t have access to the Shorts beta, they already have the option of uploading existing vertical videos of 60 seconds or less to YouTube using the hashtag #Shorts in the title or description. Those videos are then featured in a recently-added short video section on the homepage of the YouTube app. Starting Monday (Sept. 14), users can also swipe vertically through those short videos, utilizing a navigation style first popularized by TikTok.
YouTube’s Shorts launch comes during a critical time for TikTok. In addition to the popular app’s ban in the lucrative Indian market, its U.S. operations have been threatened by President Donald Trump, who on Aug. 6 issued an executive order forbidding “any transaction by any person” in the U.S. with the company’s Beijing-based owner Bytedance if Bytedance failed to divest itself of TikTok’s U.S. operations within 45 days. On Sunday, multiple outlets reported that Bytedance had struck a deal with Oracle to keep TikTok in the U.S., shortly after rejecting Microsoft’s high-profile bid.
India-based users interested in learning more about Shorts can navigate to YouTube’s new Google forum post about the tool, which includes a sign-up link for virtual workshops.