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TikTok Releases Instagram-Style App Called Whee

In June 2024, TikTok launched a new photo-sharing app on the Android store in a dozen markets. It offers a more authentic way to connect with close friends through spontaneous moments, allowing users to share real-life photos only visible to their friends.

This strategic move by TikTok reflects its ongoing efforts to diversify its platforms and enhance user engagement by catering to the desire for more private and intimate social sharing spaces.

The Origins

This is not TikTok's first foray into app development. Previously, they launched Lemon8 in February 2023, which focuses on product reviews and commercial content, and Notes, which targets a broader audience with content like recipes, travel tips, and life hacks. Unlike Whee, which is intended for sharing with friends, these apps cater to wider audiences. The release of Whee aligns with Chinese market trends, following the success of Instagram-inspired platforms like Xiaohongshu (aka Red) which, at last count in 2020, boasted over 450 million users. Whee has not yet been released in the US market, potentially due to the looming possibility of a TikTok ban in the country.

The good, the bad and the features

Whee diverges from BeReal’s timed photo concept and Snapchat’s ephemeral content, offering a more intimate version of Instagram. It allows content sharing exclusively with friends, who can like and comment on posts but, unlike Instagram, Whee permits comments without captions on photos. The app aims to integrate the best elements of these platforms in a simplified manner. Whether Whee will gain traction remains uncertain, especially given the mixed reception of new platforms like Threads.

The launch of Threads by Meta in July last year, arguably posturing as their rival to X, saw a record-breaking 100 million users subscribe in its first five days. But success was short lived and active users diminished to just 8 million by the end of the month. Criticisms of the app’s searchability and scant features left advertisers uncertain about the risk of investment, although Meta has responded proactively to reignite interest.

Currently, Whee lacks advertising opportunities, making its potential for growth and appeal to advertisers an open question. The app is basic, featuring only a messaging list and a post creation option. Users can tag friends, emphasising its focus on close social connections. Notably, videos are not supported.

Whee fosters a secure, inclusive environment for users to share unfiltered moments privately with friends, emphasising personal connections over public sharing. Keep an eye on monthly user growth and potential new features like hashtag searchability, advanced photo-editing, and AI integration, all of which could enhance the app's appeal and functionality.