TikTok’s Reportedly Testing a New Instagram-Like ‘TikTok Photos’ App

TikTok could be eyeing a new way to take on Instagram, with a new “TikTok Photos” app reportedly in development.

TikTok Photos

As reported by The SpAndroid, in the back-end code of the current TikTok app, some new references to “TikTok Photos” have appeared within the code strings.

The code appears to suggest that TikTok users will soon be prompted to share their still images to the new app, in order to “reach like-minded people who enjoy photo posts”.

There’s also, apparently, a new welcome message for the app:

TikTok Photos will be launched soon, we hope to help you gain new audiences in the new app. If the switch is on, we’ll sync your public photos to the new app, whether you close the pop-up or not.”

The addition of a separate TikTok Photos app is not overly surprising, given that TikTok has already added a “photo mode” for still images in-stream, and has been encouraging users to post more photos of late.

TikTok photos

It also makes sense in the context of Chinese app trends.

China’s own version of Instagram is the Tencent-backed Xiaohongshu, which has seen big success of late after incorporating eCommerce features.

xiaohongshu app

Xiaohongshu generated more than $500 million in net income in 2023, far exceeding expectations for the platform, and now has more than 200 million active users in the nation.

Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has also been emphasizing still image posts, though it seemingly hasn’t viewed this as a key priority. But maybe, now that Xiaohongshu is making big money, and expanding on its eCommerce potential, that’s now prompted TikTok owner ByteDance to make a bigger push on this element.

So will it work?

Well, it’s hard to see how an Instagram equivalent will compete in markets where IG itself exists but maybe, as an expansion of TikTok’s in-stream shopping push, there could be something there, which could make it a more viable project.

And ByteDance has shown a willingness to experiment with new apps, including Lemon8, which also looks very much like Instagram, though with a clear eCommerce tilt.


Lemon8 drew significant interest quickly after its U.S. launch early last year, but has seemingly lost momentum of late.  

Maybe, a TikTok-branded photo app would fare better, and facilitate more opportunities in Western markets.

And maybe, given that TikTok is facing a ban once again in the U.S., it wants to get it out now, in order to test the waters before a ban is enacted.

There’s not a heap to go on as yet, but the signs do suggest that ByteDance could be looking to enhance its eCommerce appeal through an image-based app.

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