GIFs, as any avid user of the “Interwebz” will tell you, run the gamut of human achievement and foibles. They’re the social media equivalent of a modern art museum: a few are the pinnacle of profundity, some are at the very least entertaining, and most are of dubious relevance. But there’s no denying that even the very worst GIFs are more expressive than static pictures or emoji, and that’s the appeal of Riffsy’s GIF Keyboard for iOS. And now that you can write your own captions on GIFs, the keyboard just got a lot more personal.
The GIF Keyboard is pretty self-explanatory: It’s a virtual keypad replacement that lets you express yourself with animated images instead of Latin characters. It works anywhere text input’s accepted. Riffsy supplies animated clips from “millions” of television shows, movies, and Internet videos, or alternatively, you can import your own from your phone’s default Web browser.
The GIF Keyboard now touts something else that’s totally unique: caption support. In recognition that a GIF alone is sometimes not enough to express the depth of human emotion, the latest GIF Keyboard version 2.5 lets you caption animated clips with text.
Although there are at least half a dozen identical keyboards on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, Riffsy’s managed to maintain relevance by nabbing marketing tie-ins, third-party app partnerships, and million-dollar funding rounds. In autumn of last year, it signed an agreement with NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox to promote movies such as Pitch Perfect 2, Taken 3, and Kung Fu Panda. The studios supply GIFs that fill a designated, highlighted section of Riffsy’s library.
The company recently announced exclusivity arrangements with LinkedIn and the messaging service Kik. Late last year, it raised 10 million in funding from venture capital firms Redpoint Ventures, Menlo Ventures, and others.
Ultimately, the GIF Keyboard likely isn’t the answer to enduring question of how we express ourselves to a person (or people) on the other end of an impersonal machine. But maybe, just maybe, it’ll get us one step closer to a real connection … or at least help us share a few hilarious cat clips.