Google+ now allows animated GIFs as profile pictures

26 Mar 2013

While images on Facebook and Twitter remain static, Google+ now allows users to upload animated GIFs as their profile picture giving the social network one up on its rivals.

The importance of images on social media is clearly not lost on Twitter, which has developed its own photo-editing features, and Facebook, owners of Instagram and currently rolling out updates that give users’ photos more prominence.

But, upload a GIF to Facebook and it will be frozen as a still image. Twitter isn’t much better, having stopped allowing users to upload animated GIFs as profile images last September (but users who had such images up before the rule change will keep on looping forevermore – unless they want to update their pic).

With the unveiling of Vine in January, Twitter showed that it recognised the potential of the perpetually looping image, but this method of creating and sharing them requires a specific app so far only available to iOS users.

Google, however, understands the popularity of the GIF. Just last week it created a new image search filter that makes easier to find them and, yesterday, software engineer Matt Steiner revealed that animated GIFs could now be used as profile images.

As illustrated on Steiner’s profile, the images will play on a loop when viewed on his profile page and in his photo albums, either in a browser via the Google+ app (well, for Android at least with iOS support expected to follow). The only place where images won’t be animated is in the main news feed alongside users’ posts, which is an acceptable concession considering how busy-looking that could become.

Thanks Google+, now we can all be as sassy as this llama.

fabulous llama gif

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.