GIFs are awesome.  Everyone loves coming across a hilarious GIF on Facebook or in a forum.  Tech giants are finally catching on and trying to claim the medium for their own.  Instagram Boomerang, Apples Live Photos, Google Photos Instant Animation, and Giphys Giphy Cam all want a piece of the pie.  Each one's approach is a little different; let's see who gets it right and who falls short.

First some context:

GIFs as an evolution of internet culture

GIFs (I say it with a hard G, fuck the establishment) have been a prominent part of internet culture since the beginning of the world wide web.  When the format was first released it felt magical, then it was annoying, then it felt retro, and now it has it's own language.

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GIFs are "internet cool"

Even now when someone uses a GIF you immediately feel like they are "internet cool".  The file format itself functions similar to a wink; making us feel like we are in on a joke.


GIFs are replacing words

GIFs are quickly replacing emojis in instant messaging apps. Recently they were integrated into  Facebook Messenger. This Slate article discusses the use of GIFs in internet conversation.  It has become a way for us to communicate, to shortcut to a punch line but also function as an common artifact for us to relate over.


Let's look at the products

GIPHY CAM

GIPHY lets you create GIFs using predefined overlays to add some fun to them.  I like adding the falling sandwiches to the background or falling money to the foreground.  

Pros

Saves a GIF
Overlays are fun
Simple

Cons

No editing functionality.


Apple Live Photos

Apple Live Photos takes a short video whenever you take a photo to then create an enhanced photo experience, you need to find a way to convert them to GIFsUnless your being intentional about creation I think you may be left with some awkward, "He said he was taking a photo and he took a video" moments.

Apple Live Photos

Pros

Automatically created
Simple
 

Cons

Not a GIF file
The GIFS are generally boring


Google Photos Animation

Google Photos creates real GIFs, ready to share on your favorite platforms.  It makes them in 2 ways:

  1. It automatically compiles a GIF out of a sequence of quickly snapped photos.  
  2.  You can select photos and manually have the app make an animation.

This is interesting and it provides a delightful surprise when it automatically creates a GIF.  But the problem with these GIFs is the same with Apple Photos, the GIFs rarely have a sense of humor and usually fall flat.  So you are left with a relatively boring herky jerky sequence of images.

Pros

You can create a GIF manually from a sequence
Uses GIF file format
A fully featured ecosystem with other enhancements.

Cons

Unreliable autocreation
GIFs are generally boring

 


Instagram Boomerang

Instagram uses a separate app to create animation.   Unlike Google Photos you very intentionally make an animation. You go into a separate app and you record the loop.  Not many bells or whistles just a sequence of frames making up an MOV, in order to make a GIF you need to convert it in other software.  But it will post to Instagram and Facebook without conversion.

Instagram Boomerang

Pros

Simple & Deliberate

 

Cons

Doesn't us GIF Format
Doesn't have many options
You can't edit your GIFs
 


Verdict

Giphy "gets it".  It taps into our sense of humor but gives us the flexibility to express ourselves.  The platform is based around using a GIF in a conversation and not just as an extension to a photos experience.  Google and Apple may give you an unexpected magical moment Giphy gives you that feeling of being internet cool..

So can these large companies capitalize on what has been an organically developing trend?  The truth is only one company is keeping the essence of the format alive. Giphy has worked hard to keep relevant to the culture that spawned the phenomena in the first place.

Go and download it, and search for you GIFs on giphy.com

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