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(Pocket-lint) - YouTube has officially announced its TikTok clone.

Called YouTube Shorts, it is rolling out in beta in the US on 18 March 2021 after several months of testing in India. It basically allows creators to quickly string together clips and add music tracks from “over 250 labels and publishers". It also includes a captioning tool. And, like TikTok, users can swipe through an endless feed of short videos, subscribe to creators, and browse hashtags and sounds.

They can also remix other videos’ audio tracks. If you thought we were kidding about this being a TikTok copycat, think again. Even the interface looks like TikTok. The main difference, however, is that YouTube Shorts isn't a standalone app. It's found in a new carousel on the home tab of the YouTube mobile app. YouTube is also considering a Shorts tab in the YouTube app for quicker access.

YouTube Shorts is missing the ability to reply to other videos, as well as "duet" or "stitch" features that TikTok popularised. And while Shorts has its own version of TikTok's For You page, an algorithmic feed of automatically served up videos, it is lacking a way for you to view a curated feed of videos specifically from those to which you've subscribed. On TikTok, this is called the Following page.

There's no getting around it: YouTube Shorts is playing catch-up, and it's still got a long way to go before it can attempt to truly rival TikTok.

Perhaps its main strong point is it's tied back to YouTube, one of the most popular video-sharing apps of all time. At launch, creators can start creating a Short from music videos for licensed songs. Later down the line, the company plans to allow users to remix sound from any YouTube video for use in Shorts. (YouTube users will be able to opt out, though, if they don't want their audio used.)

Shorts should be available to everyone in the US in the "next several weeks".

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Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 18 March 2021.