Facebook really wants you to use GIFs inside Messenger. The company recently unleashed a series of GIF apps from third-parties which work inside Messenger — as part of its Messenger platform initiative — but it is now going beyond that with a series of pilots that bring GIFs right into Messenger without those apps.
First off, Facebook is testing a dedicated GIF button which allows users to find and send moving images in two taps. That’s much easier than the current setup, which includes a fair amount of friction since users are required to download and use a dedicated app in addition to Messenger just to share content.
The GIF button, which began appearing last week to some of Messenger’s 700 million monthly active users, is more practical. It skims a number of trending GIFs from Giphy and Riffsy — the two companies that produced dedicated apps for Messenger — and serves them up for easy sharing without the need to leave the Messenger app.
The downside is, of course, that your selection of GIFs is more limited.
Interestingly, once sent, the GIFs include a link to download either GIF for Messenger (Riffsy) or Giphy for Messenger, as you can see in the screenshot above.
Is that prompt an indicator that these GIF apps have received a lukewarm response from Messenger users?
That’s one possible conclusion. Facebook declined to directly answer that question when we posed it to the social networking company.
“GIFs have seen success as a rich media format within Messenger,” a company spokesperson told us. “With this feature, we’re testing various ways to make it even easier to send great content — like GIFs — with just a few taps.”
So that could mean that Facebook makes other kinds of content more easy to share via Messenger? We shall see.
The GIF button is an obvious way to juice up the use of GIFs — and potential downloads of those GIF apps — and the company is also testing another pilot with an integrated GIF search option.
First spotted by Mashable, this experiment — which is apparently live with a selected number of users in Canada — allows users look up GIFs from Giphy and Riffsy (those two again) and stickers within the space where they type messages to friends.
Type in your term, tap the magnifying glass icon and a selection comes up.
Screenshot via Mashable
These two integrations are tests at this point, which means there’s no guarantee that either will roll out to all Messenger users. That said, they do show that Facebook is keen to get you sharing more multimedia inside your chat sessions.
The U.S. company isn’t alone in making a push on GIFs, though. Tumblr launched a GIF search engine and a dedicated GIF site in recent weeks, Twitter (kinda) introduced GIFs last year and made them autoplay this summer, while Hulu, Disney and the folks behind recently sold social app Path are among the many others to have dabbled in GIFs in some form this year alone.
Update: Facebook has officially rolled out the integrated GIF search feature to iOS users in the U.S. and Canada, as announced by Messenger boss David Marcus.
Note: Article updated to correct the latest user number for Messenger