May 04, 2016 10:06 AM EDT

Giphy Keys Is The Only Useful Keyboard App For iOS

By Mikey. B

Third party keyboards were one of the most hyped features of iOS 8 when it debuted in June 2014. Most featured creative designs but, as a whole, keyboard apps have been more disappointing than anything else. This however is about to change with the entry of Giphy Keys.

Just what makes Giphy Keys so special? First of all, its developers are part of a startup called Giphy and, in the opinion of Mashable, their standalone keyboard app "offers one of the best experiences" for a GIF keyboard for iOS.

Most GIF keyboard apps replace the iOS keyboard with GIF thumbnails. The GIFs are then copied and pasted onto iMessage. This additional step means that every time a GIF is selected, users will have to switch from one keyboard to the next. Giphy Keys erases this by putting a cleverly designed search and discovery tool-no more switching between typing text and searching for reaction GIFs!

Giphy Director of Mobile Products Jillian Fisher commented that the difference is in the user interface. She said, "There's a ton of third-party GIF keyboards out there and we actually power a lot of them, but in terms of the UI [user interface], we noticed a lot of them are really similar in that it's all GIFs right there under your thumb-and that's great, but the intention is to switch in and out of your keyboard."

She added, "It's a pretty frustrating experience, especially if you have more than one [keyboard app] installed, we wanted to avoid that situation where you feel like you're trapped in that keyboard."

The app features different sections for GIF reactions on top of the keyboard. From here, users can browse the Giphy library (search), select popular GIFs (reactions), pick GIFs by topic (explore) and a couple of others called favorites and recents. A magic 8 ball section that should look familiar to Slack users.

The 8 ball section uses hidden commands that allows the use of Giphy on Slack. This section answers yes or no questions using randomly selected GIFs.

At the moment Giphy Keys is only available on iOS but an Android version will be rolled out soon. An estimated date of release is not yet available.

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