A quick glance at popular messaging apps will show that GIF integration is an integral part of their appeal.
A notable absence from the list is WhatsApp, which still lacks the ability to play GIFs. The fact that the app ranks first in the top of the most used messaging apps does not eliminate the fact that static images are all you can get.
However, WhatsApp is about to get in line with the rest of the pack, according to the latest iOS beta release of the app.
WABetaInfo, a source that keeps a keen eye on WhatsApp's beta changes, tweeted enthusiastically about the changelog.
— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) June 7, 2016
Just to be clear, we are referring to WhatsApp version 18.104.22.168, which seems to pack extensions crafted to allow GIFs. Users have been requesting this feature for a for a long time, and it is good to see that the developers are finally listening.
One thing that the WhatsApp version will lack, however, is the ability to search for GIFs inside the app. The neat feature was commended by many when rival apps such as Facebook Messenger implemented it, but it will take some time before we see it on WhatsApp.
The feature might still be in its early stages, but at least the capability saves you the effort of opening the browser each time a friend sends a GIF.
GIF integration is not the only new capability identified in the beta build. WhatsApp will also let its iOS users save GIF files as static images. We are not exactly sure why someone would want to save a standard image instead of the full GIF, but economy of storage space comes to mind.
To summarize, GIF integration is set to land on WhatsApp soon enough, but it still has a long way to go before matching rival messaging apps. We're looking forward to the moment when WhatsApp will take a leaf out of Facebook Messenger's book and introduce a complete list of various GIF categories.
Looking at other recently embedded beta features, WhatsApp added a call back button in WhatsApp call notifications, as well as the ability to share ZIP files.
Take a look at the complete changelog to see what other tweaks WhatsApp has prepared for its beta release.
The company did not officially announce when the update will go live, but we expect to see it exit the beta stage soon enough.