Giphy, the GIF search engine known for its exhaustive library of animated GIFs and distracting you at work, just launched its first-ever standalone app, Giphy Cam.
Giphy Cam lets users snap their own GIFs inside the app then apply layers of filters and backgrounds as well as additional animation like pizza, dollar bills, and flames, of course.
The app is currently for iOS only, but an Android version is on the way. Previously, Giphy only had an application that worked with Facebook Messenger.
Giphy (pronounced like “gifty” without the “t”) has built up its arsenal of content by allowing users to upload their own GIFs, but also by properly licensing each movie or TV scene that they manually turn into GIFs, Giphy COO Adam Leibsohn told Fast Company. This has helped the fledgling New York-based company sidestep the pitfalls that other sites featuring user-generated content (namely the now-shuttered Grooveshark, which allowed users to upload and share copyrighted music) have fallen into.
Right now, Giphy Cam allows users to save or share their GIF creations directly to social media or via text and email. There is no feed or user profile at this point. The app is a complement to networks like Instagram instead of a direct competitor, Leibsohn says.
Eventually, Giphy will add its own platform and sharing interface for users to more directly interact with each other and their GIFs.
“I think that should be expected—it’s pretty obvious,” says Leibsohn, who has worked in both media and tech startups.
Giphy will continue to add new filters and animations to the app, and Leibsohn says the company has artist collaborations and content partners (likely movie studios) lined up as Giphy Cam expands its content creation options. Sound will remain unavailable on Giphy Cam.
“We’re not opposed to it at all. We know it can be enhancing, and we know it can be really fun, and you can do cool stuff. We see other apps that do interesting stuff with imagery and sound,” Leibsohn says.
But part of a GIF’s power is its lack of sound, Leibsohn says. They’re instantly readable and contextualized visually, and whether you receive them in a meeting or on the run, the message is manifested immediately.
For now, Giphy isn’t even storing its users’ personal creations. That could change in the future, as Giphy ramps up its capabilities. But even then, users will always own their own content, Leibsohn says.
He says the company is still figuring out its business model and still identifies as a content company (the app is free). Since it hasn’t established a clear platform for users to share and receive its content, mobile advertising isn’t yet an option. So far, Giphy has subsisted on its fundraising, bringing in $25 million in two funding rounds. It’s also been building partnerships with brands like HBO’s Game of Thrones and Calvin Klein for personalized GIF solutions and has a partnership with team communication app Slack to integrate its GIF search function right into Slack’s chat interface.
For now, Giphy is focused on getting its content in front of as many people as possible.
“We’re very nimble. We have a vision, and we’re flexible in the middle,” Leibsohn says. “We make a lot of people happy, and I like that.”