GIFs are everywhere we look, including on Slack, Facebook, Twitter, email, and even in our text messages. But the process for sharing these images isn’t exactly a uniform one, which is why Giphy launched a keyboard app for iOS devices today.
Called Giphy Keys, it’s a combination keyboard and search engine. You’re still able to type out messages normally, but if you think that a GIF is needed, you can simply tap on a button in that keyboard — no longer do you have to jump to another tool — and quickly insert the image. Among the features Giphy Keys includes are the ability to search by keyword, emotion, subject, decade, or for the ones you’ve used most frequently.
The app also has a feature that lets you automatically create GIFs based on what you’ve typed, the weather, or anything else.
“GIFs let us be who we are without having to over-articulate it,” said Julie Logan, Giphy’s director of brand strategy. “The core purpose of culture is to lend us moments out of which we shape our personality. So every time a new era of technology shifts the way we communicate, a new medium for sharing culture appears. This is undisputedly the age of mobile messaging and GIFs are undisputedly its new cultural medium.”
While Giphy’s keyboard offers one solution to the proliferation of GIFs, there are others in the market. Riffsy, perhaps its main competitor, also has its variation of a keyboard, but it functions primarily as a search engine — you still need to use a native text keyboard to formulate words.
The company also has several native integrations — you simply enter a command or tap a button and the GIF is embedded inside a post — like with Twitter. However, with Giphy Keys, the process is not as simple, since you’ll need to paste the image into a post after selecting it through the app. And in some cases, as within a Facebook post, it won’t stick.
Starting a feature off on iOS can cause some consternation among Android users. Jillian Fisher, Giphy’s director of mobile products, acknowledged that Android plays a big part in helping the company get GIFs. Fisher revealed that a non-iOS version of Giphy Keys is in the works, but she didn’t specify when it would be released.
“We first built Keys for ourselves because, while we actually power a lot of the third-party keyboards you see out there, we wanted to build one with a UX that worked for us and also fully utilized the extent of what the Giphy API has to offer,” she stated. “Keys not only allows you to seamlessly search for and share GIFs from right inside the message field, but create GIFs on-the-fly, as well.”
Fisher hopes that people will consider Giphy’s newest app to be “the very best (and least annoying) GIF keyboard” out there and said there are plans to add more features and commands to improve the experience.
You can download Giphy Keys for iOS here.