Your text messages are about to get a lot more animated.
Giphy — the Internet’s premier repository for animated images — released a new mobile (iOS) app on Thursday. Named Giphy Cam, it allows you to record GIFs with your smartphone’s camera, which you can then stylize with filters and share via Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, email, and iMessage.
It works like this: After opening the app and giving it access to your camera, you select one of the app’s filters and tap a red record button at the center of the screen. It’ll capture five one-second bursts of your image — which Giphy says is the “sweet spot” for GIF length — and immediately turn them into a looping, moving image. You’re then free to share that GIF on whatever platform you choose.
Though GIF generators have been available to the masses for years, Giphy’s app contains a couple of key features that the company hopes will differentiate it — and encourage people to use more animated images.
For one thing, the app’s filters are steeped in a weird Internet aesthetic. Rather than offer the kinds of subtle, nostalgic shading you get from Instagram or Gifboom, Giphy’s filters provide splashy, moving backgrounds decorated with emblematic Web symbols, such as pizzas, cats, and the sunglasses from the “deal with it” meme.
Unlike competitors phhhoto or to.be Cam, Giphy Cam doesn’t send its GIFs in the form of links or images you have to tap before they animate. Rather, its GIFs begin to move as soon as they’re received, regardless of platform and even if viewers don’t own the app.
Giphy — a 2-year-old company that now draws about 55 million unique users to its website each month — has always pushed to widen the communication channels on which GIFs work. In 2013, the company figured out a way to enable Facebook users to embed its GIFs in their feeds. A few months later, it figured out a similar solution for Twitter.
“Our philosophy is that GIFs are the future of communication,” Giphy’s chief operating officer, Adam Leibsohn, said. “This is the way people talk on mobile and messenger and social, and it doesn’t really pay off if it’s not animating immediately when you send them.”
As for Leibsohn, he’s already found a favorite filter to frame his everyday interactions.
“My favorite [filter] is the chompy guy,” he said. “I’ll put him inside a cup, I’ll put him next to me while I’m eating. I’ll look at him. I’ll put him on people’s heads. He’s looking at the sun. He’s looking at the stars. He’s looking at a pretty picture of McCarren Park.”