October 24, 2020
TikTok faces ban from app stores: Here are 5 alternatives

TikTok faces ban from app stores: Here are 5 alternatives


Angela Lang/CNET

Starting Sunday, ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat apps will be barred from US app stores. Video app TikTok, along with messaging app WeChat, are massive global apps: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, TikTok amassed over 100 million users in the US and 2 billion downloads worldwide. 

What’s more, TikTok is the first non-US-based social network to make it big worldwide. Other apps, like China’s Twitter equivalent Weibo, haven’t made the leap to international popularity.

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The ban is the latest event in the saga between the popular Chinese apps and the US government. According to a statement from US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the administration’s decision is meant to “combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data.” However, intelligence agencies have determined that, while it’s possible for China to collect data through TikTok, there’s no evidence that it’s happened. 

What this means is TikTok and WeChat will no longer be available for download in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store as of Sunday. So if you have either of the apps downloaded already, updates will stop coming after this weekend. While WeChat’s operations will mostly cease amid the ban, TikTok has until Nov. 12 to work out a deal with a US partner or face the same restrictions. 

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a TikTok alternative, here are some short video creation apps to check out: 

Shelby Brown/CNET

Reels is a video feature that launched in August on Instagram. With Reels, you can film, edit and post 15-second videos (minimum clip length is three seconds) in the app. To get started, make sure you’ve got the latest version of the Instagram app on iOS or Android. You can find Reels by swiping right to open the camera and tapping Reels. (Read our full Reels tutorial here.)

If you’ve used Vine or TikTok, Reels should feel familiar to you. On the left side of the screen, there’s a slew of filters, songs to add, timed text options and other effects. 

You can easily swap and post to your Instagram page or story as well. In addition, you can save a Reel to your drafts to keep working on it later. 

Triller/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Rival TikTok app Triller started gaining more attention this month as members of the Trump family including the president joined amid the TikTok negotiations. Similar to TikTok, Triller offers video and music features: Choose a song from the app’s library or import their own song, film or upload a video, and edit and share on different social media platforms. You can also collaborate with friends on the app.

Triller also offers a vlog feature that lets you edit your footage in a B-roll documentary style, or Make a Music Video, which lets you upload clips without adding audio.

The app has social features like TikTok with the Community and Following feed. If you amass a large enough following, Triller’s Wallet system can actually make you money. Triller has Gold, its in-app currency, which followers can gift to each other. Earning enough Gold can help you get Gems, which can be exchanged for real cash. 

Triller is available on iOS and Android


Though it’s not available in the US yet, YouTube is working on a TikTok-style video feature called YouTube Shorts. Shorts will let creators film quick, catchy videos at a maximum length of 15 seconds. YouTube will also provide tools to edit multiple video clips together, as well as speed controls, timer and countdown options for recording hands-free. 

Currently, YouTube Shorts is being tested on Android phones in Brazil. The company plans to expand to iOS in more countries soon. 

Shelby Brown/CNET

Byte was developed by Vine co-founder Dom Hoffman, and it’s currently available on Android and iOS. The app’s interface is similar to that of TikTok. You can either upload a video from your phone or film a new one. It’s probably got the fewest special effects features in terms of editing. When I made a clip, I was only able to add text and a song, and the app was rather limited in choices for both. One cool feature Byte does offer is Ghost Mode: If you tap the ghost icon while filming, it’ll make your original image look faded, creating a dream-like or flashback effect. 

Until you start following other users, Byte will show a variety of videos in your home feed. If you tap the magnifying glass, you can start exploring content. The app sorts videos into different categories like trending stuff, or genres like comedy, anime, weird things, pets, magic and more, instead of hashtags, like TikTok uses. 

Dubsmash/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Dubsmash is a video-sharing app based in New York. Creators can record new content or upload old content, and edit using filters, stickers and text. Upload your creation to Dubsmash and grow a following there, or share your clips on other social media platforms. Clips on the Dubsmash platform can be public or private as well.

Dubsmash feels the most like TikTok to me with the Trending feeds, Explore tab, direct message and favoriting features. The app is available on iOS and Android

For more, you can read our explainer about what’s been going on with TikTok in the US, and our list of WeChat alternatives. You can also check out our list of the best free video chat apps

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