Instagram just got a great free video upgrade

The battle between Instagram and TikTok continues with the addition of a very TikTok-esque feature

Two women using Instagram on their phones.
(Image credit: Getty)

Instagram has just announced an important new video upgrade. The social network (and Threads) boss Adam Mosseri posted to his broadcast channel this week that a feature previously only available to US users is now rolling out worldwide. 

The new feature enables you to save reels to your camera roll so you can watch them at any time, and appears as a new Download option in the mobile app's share button. It's available on public accounts only, and there are some exclusions: creators can choose to opt out of downloads for specific posts or for their entire account, and the feature is switched off by default for any account owners aged under 18. You'll still be able to save such reels to your collection, but you won't be able to download them if the account creator doesn't want you to.

The feature has been tested in the US for a while, and it's a handy one for those of us who often want to show someone else a reel but can't remember what it was called or who posted it. Any reel you download will be watermarked to show the name of the account it was downloaded from. 

If you're thinking that the feature sounds awfully like the downloading feature that TikTok offers, you're not wrong: Instagram's parent company Meta has made it very clear that it sees TikTok as a key rival, and while it's fun to watch Threads mopping up ex-Twitter users TikTok is clearly of much more importance to Meta than Musk's burning platform.

When will you get the new Instagram feature?

Don't be entirely surprised if you encounter a few glitches as the feature is rolled out globally: it's not currently working for me in the latest version of the iOS app (I'm in the UK), and the FAQ section "Who can download your Instagram reels" has gone blank today, 23 November, instead of sharing the text it did yesterday.

The new downloading feature isn't the only Instagram feature we've got this month. The new Close Friends feature was announced 10 days ago and ast week Mosseri announced new photo filters, new editing tools for Reels including undo and redo, new text to speech voices and a change to how replays are counted: repeat viewings are now counted in your views.

And there's more to come. Instagram is also testing options including disabling "seen" statuses and using multiple audience lists. Between Instagram and Threads it's clear that Meta is keeping its software engineers very busy.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (