TikTok parent company silently launches new Instagram competitor

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of the video-sharing app TikTok, has quietly unveiled a new app called “Whee”, drawing comparisons to Meta’s Instagram. According to a report by Android Police, the new app is currently available for download in over a dozen countries, including India and Brazil, but it is not yet accessible in the United States. Attempts to log in after somehow downloading the app from the Google Play Store in the US result in an error message, and even using a virtual private network (VPN) proved unsuccessful, according to the report. However, according to screenshots of the app, Whee presents a familiar interface, reminiscent of Instagram, but with a more intimate twist, specifically tailored for sharing photos visible only to designated friends. This stark departure from Instagram’s public account model, where posts are visible to all, marks an intriguing differentiator for the app, according to the developer. The friends-only approach is even emphasised in the screenshots, saying, “Share with friends only”, “Made for friends”, and “Like and comment only with friends”, the report said. According to the screenshots, the app has a simple user interface with three tabs for the camera, feed and messages. It also features an Instagram-like notification button at the top. However, the launch of Whee comes after ByteDance’s recent launch of TikTok Notes, another Instagram-like app for sharing photos and texts. It is unclear why the app’s friends-only functionality couldn’t be integrated into the Notes app, similar to how Instagram handles private and public accounts. Additionally, the company hasn’t revealed when or if Whee will be available worldwide.