Technology Startups

New App Turns Your Mobile Keyboard Into a GIF Library

New App Turns Your Mobile Keyboard Into a GIF Library
Image credit: Carlina Teteris | Getty Images | Entrepreneur

I’m writing this post in an email, and want to show how I’m feeling. Why? Because a new, interesting product came out this morning. And how exactly does it make me feel? Well, like THIS:

How did I add that so easily? Well, like this:

This is Giphy Keys. It’s available for iOS (with Android coming later), and turns your keyboard into a GIF-search and creation machine. One installed, pulling it up is simple: Any time you're using your normal keyboard, just hold the globe to the left of the keyboard and then pick Giphy's.

From there, you can use Giphy Keys' many functions -- searching for GIFs by keyword or through various menus, like emotions (OMG, LOL, etc.) and subjects (animals, cartoons, etc.). Or, tap the eight-ball icon to bring up a few GIF-making tools -- an animation of whatever words you type, or a silly GIF that displays the weather. Choose the GIF you want, and easily plop it into your text, email, or anything else.

Related: 8 Free Mobile Apps College Students Should Download ASAP

It’s a fun, quick tool. But here’s why it’s so intriguing: Giphy Keys essentially replaces some of the reasons that people would use Giphy's pre-existing tools. (Giphy is the Internet’s biggest GIF company, and the reason you’re able to pull up GIFs inside Twitter, Facebook Messenger and hundreds of other apps. Read more about them here.) Take, for example, Giphy’s first app, which is a mobile search engine for GIFs. That app also finds GIFs and makes them easy to text or email -- but the process wasn't seamless. If I were texting a friend, I'd first have to close the text app, open Giphy’s app, and then find the GIF I wanted. Giphy Keys lets me skip Giphy’s app entirely.

And Giphy? They’re not concerned about that.

"The thing is, we’re not a keyboard company, we’re not a mobile app company, and we’re not just a search engine," says Julie Logan, director of brand strategy. "Giphy is a lot of things, so we’re not concerned about cannibalizing our other products. We want to be everywhere where you want to have GIFs. There’s no one silver bullet that we have. Being everywhere is our thing."

In fact, this cannibalization is part of Giphy’s strategy. When I was on my laptop and wanted to email a GIF to a friend, I used to go to Giphy.com, search for the right GIF, then paste it into my email. Then I discovered Giphy’s Gmail plugin, which creates a little icon on the bottom of my email window. If I tap it, up pops a miniature GIF search engine. That’s way easier for me -- I no longer have to go to Giphy.com. So, now I don’t.

Some companies may be hesitant to release products like this. After all, Giphy’s Gmail plugin means that Giphy gets less web traffic from me. And Giphy Keys means that I’ll spend less time inside Giphy’s own app. But Giphy says that’s just because I’m a particular kind of user, with very particular needs. "We definitely are interested to see how users respond to it," Jillian Fischer, the company’s director of mobile products, tells me. "You’re saying you’d just use the Giphy app when you wanted to find a GIF. There are other users who just browse through it for entertainment and discovering things, and then they say, ‘Oh, cool, I want to share this,’ and they share it."

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Snapchat

In other words, one product doesn’t fully cannibalize another. It just splits users up into groups, giving each group the tool they prefer. Now do you see why I'm so intrigued?

Edition: December 2016

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