For the past week, much to the annoyance of my friends, parents and acquaintances, I’ve been testing Giphy Keys, a free iOS keyboard from the gif-obsessed website. It’s made texting so much better.
Once installed, the app’s top row of software keys is where you do all the gif navigation, while the rest of the interface is just a rudimentary keyboard. You can search for specific gifs by keyword, more generally by searching reactions like “WTF” or “OMG”, or by browsing categories. Once you find that perfect gif, you just tap it and it’s immediately copied to your clipboard. It’s incredibly simple.
As far as typing goes, Giphy Keys isn’t good enough to replace Swype or SwiftKey or whatever digital keyboard you prefer for, you know, actually typing words. It doesn’t have autocorrect or swipe-to-type features. Giphy’s director of mobile products, Jillian Fisher, told Gizmodo that the app’s first job was to be a useful gif search engine, but better keyboard functionality “is definitely something we’re thinking about”.
A few other problems popped up while I was testing the beta version of the app. Sometimes when I’d copy a gif, it wouldn’t register, so when I went to paste it, I got the previous gif instead of the new one. We’d expect beta quirks to get ironed out soon, though.
Compared to other gif keyboards, and there are several, Giphy Keys is much easier to use. The actual gif search function is minimal compared to the overall keyboard so your screen doesn’t feel crowded. The design uses space incredibly efficiently, and the icons are intuitive. But the best part is that Giphy sources the keyboard library from its well-populated site, which is constantly being updated. So when [SPOILER THING FROM GAME OF THRONES] happened, I was able to text gifs of that very scene to friends the next day.
Giphy Keys is not a complete keyboard replacement, but it doesn’t want to be. A must-have tool in your texting arsenal will do just fine.