WhatsApp’s arduous path to GIF support nears completion

12 Jan 2017

WhatsApp. Image: Inferiorz Presents/Shutterstock

WhatsApp has quickly become a dominant instant messaging tool, though it’s far behind some of its rivals in certain regards. GIF improvements could change that.

Sending GIFs across Viber, Twitter, Imgur, email and more has become one of the current internet age’s dominant pastimes, and WhatsApp just hasn’t kept up.

However, that has been changing in recent months. In November, iOS users were the first to sample GIFs in WhatsApp, with the beta services showing Android to be lagging way behind.

To convert into GIFs on iOS, videos can’t be longer than six seconds – though, given the Live Photo tool, this is not a major issue. There’s a limited search option, too.

Eventually, the web client caught up with its own GIF support. However, there is still one major absence in this realm of WhatsApp’s late-to-the-party service: GIF search, support and share functionality without the need for a third-party app.

But soon that will change, according to Android Police.

A new beta version of WhatsApp already seen in the wild allows users to search for, choose and send GIFs from the WhatsApp app on Android phones, without the need for a separate Giphy client, the GBoard app or previously saved GIFs.

Not just that, but WhatsApp users will soon be able to send three times the number of media items to friends, up from 10 to 30, in a single go.

Both features are available on WhatsApp beta v2.17.6 for Android, which you can obtain either by joining the Google Play Store and downloading it there, or by taking the APK directly from APKMirror.

It’s not clear when this will receive a full roll-out.

Late last year, it emerged that WhatsApp was looking at a Snapchat-like tool to add to its portfolio, with users’ Status bars potentially hosting expiring content.

The new Status tab will coexist with the old version in WhatsApp’s settings menu, hinting strongly at Facebook’s ‘Messenger Day’ and Instagram’s ‘Stories’.

WhatsApp’s new Status feature will, when it’s fully released, let people share multiple updates in a day.

WhatsApp. Image: Inferiorz Presents/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic