WhatsApp ups its offering with GIF support on iOS

8 Nov 2016

WhatsApp. Image: Chonlachai/Shutterstock

Android has been left behind in the pursuit of WhatsApp favouritism, with iOS the first operating system to get GIF sharing and searching.

WhatsApp’s changes are coming thick and fast, with a new iOS update providing support for GIFs – an obvious area to improve in recent years.

As Snapchat, Messenger, Viber and more provide stiff competition for WhatsApp, its rise to 1bn users has not come by accident.

It has gradually improved upon earlier iterations and, until recently, stayed clear of any form of privacy concerns.

The new iOS update will allow users to send and receive GIFs. These include Live Photos and short videos, which can be now converted to animated GIFs, too.


To convert into GIFs, videos can’t be longer than six seconds. Live Photo conversion is pretty straightforward for users, as they can use the 3D Touch feature from the Attach interface.

There’s also a search bar for GIFs to make it easier to find a suitable option at short notice, which is often the case in instant messaging.

Android has not yet received the update, though its beta tests feature the additions, so it’s on the way.

Last week, it emerged that WhatsApp was testing its own variation of Snapchat’s Snaps feature, with users’ Status bars soon to host expiring content.

The attack on Snapchat’s surprising rise to social media power is ratcheting up a notch; as WhatsApp follows Instagram’s lead, planning for its new Status tool to host content.

Having already included video calling capabilities in beta to one of the world’s most popular instant messaging tools, and rolling the new GIF features out onto iOS, WhatsApp’s next trick is a souped-up status bar, filled with content that can be viewed for a short time period.

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. Those interested in testing it out need the latest public beta update of the app – so users need a jailbroken smartphone to mess around with it.

WhatsApp. Image: Chonlachai/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic