The app opens in sub-second and then starts playing a video right away, the video is also selected to conform to your previous likings. Or I also like to say it's the mobile phone era's bubble gums, a source of endless simple pleasure. Of course there are also many videos providing valuable educational content.
From my own experience, I feel Douyin has enforced pretty strict policies regarding what video are acceptable. A while ago I submitted a video about early day internet success stories such as eBay/PlentyOfFish/etc., it was rejected repeatedly. No reasons were given and I didn't bother to ask. I suspect it's because I had words "rich"/"money"/"quick success" in the description. You often hear other people's complaints in their videos, such as "My last one was deleted by Douyin and I don't know why." Anyway, it's just my one anecdote.
On the other hand, this form (of convenience and simple pleasure) matches our basic desire, imo. So maybe it will continue to develop and expand.
I should say Douyin/Tik Tok is also great for people to express themselves, to create artistic content, to provide valuable content. So potato chip or bubble gum are naturally not very accurate descriptions.
Does anyone else find the jittery multicolored icon suspicious? It seems like it's begging to be used as a fingerprint to identify from which phone a video was recorded. It basically hides surveillance in plain site, and the fingerprint survives sharing/re-encoding.
Instead it's a very effective (IMO) watermark that draws the attention to the app and it was probably one of the reasons why it's so popular. I've seen it on Reddit a few times going 'wtf is that?'. Think of it like the modern-day's "Unregistered HyperCam 2".
Another article about how children don't understand the implications of putting their personal information in this app:
> Edit Notes: Chinese app company Bytedance acquired Musical.ly for nearly $1 billion in November 2017. Last week, it shut down Musical.ly and migrated all its users and content to Tik Tok, another short video app it owns. Musical.ly was incredibly popular in India with over 15 million users in the country. With the migration, Bytedance has created a large user base in the country.
Here's a video someone made recently explaining it better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PmphkNDosg