The Role of GIFs in App Development

by Federica Rustico

12 min read
Last Updated: May 26, 2023

Have you ever wanted to spice up your apps and excite your users? Have you ever seen a nice user interface with animations and thought it was cool, but then you started thinking about how to implement the crazy animations in code, and you quickly started telling yourself, "This UI is trash" to exonerate yourself from building it...? Then, you're not alone! The crazy thing is that you’ve been considering the wrong thing all along. Instead of code or SVG, consider GIFs.

The Role of GIFs in App Development

Over the past several years, there has been a rise in the number of mobile applications that make use of GIFs. GIFs, which stand for "Graphics Interchange Format," are a type of picture file encoded in the graphics interchange format (GIF) that consists of multiple still images played in rapid succession to convey motion. And they can be added in apps in order to increase both the visual attraction and the user engagement. They are a flexible media that may be applied in a variety of different ways to improve the overall experience for the user. So today, we’ll go through the role that GIFs play in the creation of mobile applications, including when and where they may be used, the reasons for utilizing them, and the platforms that support them. Specifically, we will look at when and where GIFs can be used. Let’s get this party started!

When to Use GIFs in App Development

Including GIFs in the design process has been shown to increase the app's level of engagement and memorability. The design process for incorporating GIFs into an app requires thinking about the app's purpose and context, the app's intended users, and the app's style. Developers and designers may make the app more interesting and fun to use if they know how to add GIFs into the interface. To provide a more enjoyable experience for app users, GIFs can be integrated into the design process in a number of different ways. These are some examples of frequent uses:

Where to Insert GIFs When Developing an Application

It's crucial to think about how and where to incorporate GIFs into an application's design to ensure the best possible user experience. Animated GIFs have several applications, but  their efficacy is heavily dependent on their placement within the app. Users' engagement, retention, and memorability of an app can all benefit from the strategic use of GIFs. Here are a number of potential applications of GIFs within an app:

The Benefits of Utilizing GIFs in Application Development

Aside from being a fun and interactive way to add to apps, GIFs are easily shared and embedded in a number of different scenarios. The incorporation of GIFs into app design has been shown to increase user engagement and quality of life. Here are a few advantages of implementing GIFs into app development:

The Role of GIFs in App Development

Platforms that are Compatible with GIFs

GIFs are an easily shared and seen image format that may be viewed and used in a wide range of applications. They work with the vast majority of popular social networking and messaging apps as well as mobile web browsers. Emails, blogs, and other online content can all benefit from including GIFs. There are a slew of sites and applications made for working with and viewing GIFs. For this reason, GIFs are a flexible and easy way to incorporate visual material into a wide range of settings, including the following:

Reasons Related to Technology

But GIFs aren’t just used because they give brands personality. No Sir, there are actually some tech reasons related to why they’re being integrated in apps. Let’s go through them, shall we?

How to incorporate GIFs in Android and iOS

There are a couple different approaches for including GIFs in app development for Android and iOS. One option is to utilize one of the several libraries designed specifically for showing GIFs in apps, such as Glide or Picasso on Android, or FLAnimatedImage on iOS. These libraries simplify the process of loading and displaying GIFs in an app by taking care of details like caching, memory management, and decoding.

The Role of GIFs in App Development

Alternatively, GIFs can be displayed in Android and iOS apps by using an image view, such as an ImageView or a UIImageView. Setting the picture view's source to the GIF's file path will accomplish this. It's possible that this approach will need more code for things like caching and memory management.

It is also necessary to think about the file size and resolution of the GIFs before adding them into an app. It's vital to optimize the GIFs so that they take up as little space as possible without sacrificing quality, as this can cause the app's performance to suffer and cause it to run out of memory. When deciding to include GIFs in your app, it's crucial to think about accessibility features like alternative text and closed captioning for users with visual impairments.

How to incorporate GIFs in web-apps

There are a few options for incorporating GIFs into web apps. One option is to embed the GIF with an HTML img> tag and specify the URL of the image as its source. Displaying GIFs in web apps can be as easy as doing what has just been described.

Using JavaScript libraries like Gif.js or Lazy Load is another option for incorporating GIFs into web apps. Lazy loading, where the GIF is only downloaded when it is visible in the viewport, is one example of how these libraries might boost a web app's efficiency. To add to that, a bespoke animation that mimics a gif's effect on the web can be made with CSS animation and keyframe. If you'd like more creative freedom with your animation or need to make an effect that can't be done with a gif, this method could be helpful.

It's vital to think about the file size and resolution of GIFs when integrating them into web apps, as this can affect the app's performance and memory usage. The GIFs should be optimized to reduce their file size without compromising image quality. Accessibility should also be taken into account when deciding how to implement GIFs into your online app, such as by offering alternative text or closed captioning for users with visual impairments.

Cons of using GIFs in app development

Ok, ok, let’s talk about some of the drawbacks too! There are some considerations to keep in mind when working with GIFs in app development. We'll start with the color scheme. When it comes to showing high-quality images or films, GIFs aren't the best option because of their 256-color limit. JPEGs and MP4s are the best formats to use if you want to impress people with your photography or videography.

Also, your battery life may decrease more quickly if you display animated GIFs. In light of this, it is important to consider how to optimize GIFs such that they have as little of an effect on battery life as possible if you intend to use them extensively in your app.

Finally, the resolution. Given the limitations of the GIF format, high-definition presentations may benefit from employing an alternative file type. If you want to make a visually impressive app, you need to think about how the file format you employ will affect the app's performance and the end user's overall experience.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, the usage of GIFs has become a key tool in the creation of mobile applications, particularly with regard to improving the user experience and increasing engagement. They have a wide range of applications, from alerts that the program is loaded to demonstrations of its features and the addition of personality to the app. They also have a reasonably small file size and are supported by a wide variety of operating systems and devices. In addition, they can be utilized in the provision of accessibility options, the exhibition of branding, and the production of interactive experiences. GIFs have the potential to be a helpful addition to app development if they are utilized in a way that is appropriate given the nature of the app's environment and its intended function. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to create and integrate your own branded GIFs into your apps! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is GIPHY free for developers?

Giphy's library of GIFs can be accessed and used by developers via a free API (Application Programming Interface). Using the Giphy API, programmers can look for GIFs using keywords, obtain GIFs using IDs, and conduct a variety of additional operations on the GIFs. You should be aware that some aspects of the API may only be accessible through the subscription version, and that the number of queries per day may be restricted.