If you’re tired of waiting for your favorite messaging application to integrate GIF search, Giphy is out with Keys, a GIF keyboard that will make it easier for you to quickly send your favorite cat GIF to anyone.
The team at Giphy, the search engine for GIFs, believe that GIFs are a growing medium and a language — naturally, these graphic interface formats need their own keyboard to be able to utilized swiftly in conversation.
“This is a Giphy Keyboard, not just a GIF keyboard.”
With GIF search integration in apps like Facebook Messenger, the process isn’t always as fast or accurate in finding what you want. And up until now, without GIF search integration, you would have to leave a conversation to find a suitable GIF. The GIF company doesn’t believe you should do that, and so Keys was born.
On the surface, when you first download Giphy Keys for iOS, it doesn’t look all that different from a normal keyboard. It sports a sleek, monochrome gray-and-black theme, but you’ll then notice a toolbar above the keyboard with six images.
The first is a search symbol — your standard GIF search. Tapping this will allow you to search throughout Giphy’s database, which the company claims is the largest of its kind. Mistype something? The keyboard will suggest a term you may have been searching for. Once you find a GIF you want to share, tapping on it will copy it into your clipboard. You’ll then have to paste your GIF in the text field to send it.
While tapping the GIF when you first find it to send it would have made for a faster process, the reasoning for pasting the GIF into the text field is due to a limitation of iOS.
“That’s definitely a limitation of the iOS keyboard,” Jillian Fisher, director of Mobile Products at Giphy told Digital Trends.
Next you’ll find an upside down smiley face, and that brings up certain phrases like “Hello,” “OMG,” and “LOL,” — and clicking on one of those terms with bring you related GIFs. The third icon is a UFO, which is essentially a list of categories you can choose from in alphabetical order, starting with “Animals,” and ending with “TV.” Clicking on one of these will bring up subcategories to choose from — for example, if you tap on “Animals,” you’ll then get to peruse through “Badgers,” “Bat,” and so on. Of course, clicking on those names will provide you a seemingly endless supply of GIFs.
The heart icon after the UFO is your favorites. Any time you press and hold a GIF, you’ll get an option to “Save to Favorites.” Tapping on the heart icon will bring you to all of your favorite GIFs that you saved. Similarly, the hourglass icon gives you quick access to your most recently used GIFs.
Where Giphy Keys stands out above the competition is through its 8 Ball feature. It’s a unique way to quickly “create” your own GIFs to share instantly.
“This is a Giphy Keyboard, not just a GIF keyboard,” Julie Logan, director of brand strategy at Giphy, told Digital Trends. “A lot of what those [8 Ball] commands are doing are taking some of the powers of GIF creation and putting it into your keyboard. ”
Some of these features include “Echo,” where Giphy will turn your word or phrase into an animated GIF; “Weather,” where you can input a ZIP code to get your weather and location overlaid on a related GIF; and “8 Ball,” where you can type in something and have Giphy find you a random GIF. There’s also a “Text,” and “Sticker” feature as well as a part of 8 Ball.
Giphy Keys is certainly a useful keyboard to have if you send a lot of GIFs, and if you prefer your another third-party or the native keyboard to type on, it’s not too hard to switch between them. Of course, all of this is not to say that Keys is the first GIF keyboard — in fact, the company’s biggest competitor, Riffsy, released GIF Keyboard for Android and iOS earlier this year. Riffsy’s app can send short videos, and have GIFs saved in Safari show up in your keyboard, rather than the Camera Roll.
With Keys though, don’t expect to see functions like swipe to text, as the company is more or less focusing on improving GIF search rather than expanding on keyboard features. An Android version is also in the works.
“We want to be everywhere the GIF can be, and Android is just another piece of the puzzle,” Fisher said.
You can download Giphy Keys from the App Store for free, and you’ll have to enable it in iOS’ settings to be able to use it as a third-party keyboard.