What is the TikTok Notes App?

With over two billion monthly active users, Instagram is a success story in the social media landscape. So, it’s no surprise that apps like TikTok want a slice of the photo sharing pie. While TikTok is a hit in its own right, the platform has been making considerable developments to the app, quietly testing TikTok Notes – a photo sharing initiative – in Australia and Canada.

The ‘copycat’ phenomenon is nothing new. After all, YouTube Shorts were inspired by Instagram Reels, which in turn were ripped off from TikTok. But what is TikTok Notes exactly and will it boost the 1.5 billion following that TikTok already has? Let’s take a closer look.

What is TikTok Notes?

TikTok Notes was launched for testing on 17 April, 2024. So it’s extremely new to the app world. But we’ve already had teasers of its upcoming capabilities. TikTok revealed on ‘X’ that they were ‘experimenting with a dedicated space for photo and text content.’

The introductory post stated

We hope that the TikTok community will use TikTok Notes to continue sharing their moments through photo posts. Whether documenting adventures, expressing creativity, or simply sharing snapshots of one’s day, the TikTok Notes experience is designed for those who would like to share and engage through photo content.

With roughly 66,000 photos shared on Instagram by users every single minute, it’s easy to see why TikTok Notes is relevant. 70% of users also watch Instagram Stories daily, many of which consist of static pictures, further confirming the popularity of photo content.

Will I Need a New Account for TikTok Notes?

Like Instagram and Threads, you won’t need a new account when downloading the TikTok Notes app. There is an option to ‘link same account’ which makes things a whole lot easier. That said,  your settings on TikTok Notes will not automatically sync with your settings on TikTok. So, if you want to keep your photo content private, you can turn this on manually in TikTok Notes.

With around 50% of all Instagram’s accounts kept private, TikTok is also prioritising the privacy of users and has made this clear in its marketing to date.

What About My Existing TikTok Photos?

While TikTok has long been known as a popular short video platform, it’s been encouraging users to share single  and carousel-style photos for a while – and now it all makes sense. Photos already shared to the TikTok app will automatically be pulled through to TikTok Notes. This includes old carousels, so you might need to do a bit of editing if you want to start a fresh TikTok Notes account.

TikTok has also stated:

Your existing and future public photo posts will be shown on the app. If you prefer not to show your public photo posts on TikTok Notes, turn this off now.” This message implies that opting in for photo sharing doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have an active TikTok Notes account.

What Does TikTok Notes Look Like?

What’s out there already works! So it makes sense that the design of TikTok Notes is nothing outlandish or unusual. In fact, the For You page looks like Instagram’s Explore page. Presumably, the algorithm for TikTok Notes will work as it does in the main app, analysing thousands of user signals to determine what kind of content they most want to see. Signals tend to be things like comments, follows and how long a user spends on a particular video. This helps to order posts and provides the best user experience possible.

The two-column layout is also familiar and could have easily been swiped from Pinterest. There are similarities to the main TikTok app too. For example, there’s a table that allows you to see only the content from those you are following. This allows for a more personalised experience.

Instagram users won’t be stunned by the post set-up either. Like the OG photo-sharing app, there’s the option to upload multiple photos as a carousel and add a caption. Unlike Instagram, you can also add a headline for the photo which appears in a bold font. Other users can like, comment and save these posts in true social media style. So far, there’s no Stories feature. And, the TikTok version of Reels is, well, TikTok.

Think of an old-school Insta set-up and that’s basically TikTok Notes in a nutshell.

When Will TikTok Notes Launch in Other Countries?

The TikTok Notes app is currently being tested in Australia and Canada. While it’s not overly clear why these countries were chosen, technology companies often test products in Westernised countries with smaller populations before rolling them out to the UK and US. Once the team at TikTok is happy with app functionality, a wider rollout is likely. Watch this space…

What if TikTok is Banned in The USA?

TikTok could be banned in the US unless it is sold by its Chinese parent company ByteDance. This is due to data security fears and the concern that TikTok might be forced to provide user data to the Chinese government.

Legislation for the sale of TikTok has been signed into law by Joe Biden. It gives ByteDance nine months to sell TikTok to a new buyer, with an additional three-month grace period, before any ban would take effect. The sale deadline would therefore come some time in 2025. TikTok also vows to fight to force sale and therefore an official ban could take years.

While a ban is very much in the limelight, TikTok is still pushing ahead with TikTok Notes in the hope all will be resolved calmly. A TikTok ban, however, would impact the Notes app.

Want more? I love this explainer from keenyakelly – go check it out on TikTok!

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