Instagram is tired of creators making their videos in Reels and then heading over to TikTok. While using Reels this week, The Verge discovered that when trying to download an edited clip to an iPhone, the audio from the clip disappeared. This means if you want to export the footage from Reels to use in another app, you have to actually post the Reel first in order to save the sound. As recently as late July, it was possible to download the clip with audio and use it in a separate app — like, say, TikTok — without posting it first.
The audio was stripped out on three iPhones we tested, though exports with audio were still possible with Instagram on Android. Instagram initially did not respond to multiple requests for comment on whether this was a glitch or an intentional change. A day after publication, Meta spokesperson Seine Kim emailed to say the issue was a bug and would be fixed.
Speaking from experience, TikTok’s in-app tools are not particularly useful for more advanced editing. TikTok doesn’t allow you to use some filters when starting with footage filmed outside the app, and it doesn’t allow you to download clips that aren’t finished or watermarked. (YouTube Shorts just added a watermark requirement, too.)
To get around this, TikTok users can jump over to Instagram, which has similar features for Reels. You could, for instance, use Instagram’s green screen effect — which is more flexible for editing than TikTok’s version — and then download that clip and send it over to TikTok. This trick is used by creators both as a way to bypass TikTok’s terrible editing tool and as a way to use video features or filters that are only on Instagram. Or, at least it used to be.
While all of these steps make filming for creators a little more time-consuming, relying on downloaded Instagram clips was one of the easiest ways to make more dynamic TikTok videos while still using filters. Without the ability to download the clips with sound, users are now faced with two choices: rely entirely on TikTok’s poor editing software just to use certain features or upload to Instagram Reels.
This change comes on the heels of Instagram temporarily walking back TikTok-esque algorithm changes. But it’s still a sign that Instagram is determined to steal the throne of shortform video platforms.
Update August 19th, 12:50PM ET: Added comment from a Meta spokesperson who says the behavior is a bug and will be fixed.