TikTok is inching ever closer to YouTube with its latest feature.
The company has confirmed with TechCrunch that it is testing a new horizontal full-screen mode for its popular short-form video app. The new feature, which is currently only available to a small group of users, allows videos to be viewed in landscape orientation, providing a more immersive viewing experience for users.
The move comes as TikTok continues to grow in popularity, with the app now boasting over 2.6 billion downloads worldwide as of November 2022. The new horizontal full-screen mode is expected to appeal to users who prefer to watch videos on their smartphones in a more traditional way, without the need to rotate their smartphones.
The report notes that, while TikTok confirmed the feature was being tested, the company did not say when or if it will roll it out to all users.
As with any test feature, it’s unknown when or if TikTok plans to release the full screen mode widely to all users. It’s also worth noting that if TikTok does decide to release the feature officially, the final product may look different than the test product.
Some creators have gamed TikTok’s limitation of vertical screen orientation by uploading a horizontal video in the vertical format “sideways.” They would then start the video by telling users to turn their devices to watch the video the way it was shot. With the update, users will have a new full-screen button similar to what you see on YouTube.
Earlier this year, TikTok rolled out the ability for creators to upload videos of ten minutes in length, so it’s not surprising to see the company roll out a full-screen horizontal mode, especially for videos that long. The move inches the company even closer to competing with YouTube, which also offers both long and short-form video products with YouTube and YouTube Shorts.
It also comes as a potential ban on TikTok in the U.S. is gaining steam once again with recent legislation introduced in Congress.