The Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) has been around for a long time, but its popularity doesn't seem to be waning. Quite the contrary, GIFs became an integral part of how we communicate through social networks and instant messaging (IM) apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and Messenger. Due to that trend, it's not surprising that software developers are constantly looking to facilitate the process of sending animated shorts to our friends, acquaintances, and followers online. Google's Android division is no exception to that rule, which is why the Google Keyboard featured in Android 7.1 Nougat adds an extra level of convenience to the process of sending GIFs. More specifically, everyone who's running the latest version of the Android OS can now share GIFs in just a couple of taps.
To do that, simply bring up the Google Keyboard in any communications app and proceed to tap on the emoji icon which is located to the left of the spacebar by default. On the next keyboard screen, tap on the GIF button that should be located immediately to the right of the space bar. This action will bring up a GIPHY-powered interface with a plethora of animated shorts to choose from. By default, the screen will show the latest GIFs uploaded to the GIPHY database, but you're also able to search for any kind of content by using the search field immediately above the GIF selection bar. In other words, this GIPHY integration works exactly like it does on Twitter, so sending GIFs is as easy as tapping on a button and entering a relevant query.
Note that this Google Keyboard feature is exclusive to Android 7.1 Nougat and is currently only available in selected apps. Of course, Google's developers are working to expand support to as many apps as possible in the near future, but for now, don't expect your GIF-sending practices to be significantly facilitated if you're using niche messaging apps. If sharing GIFs is something you do on a regular basis and you really want to use this feature, it's best to stick to mainstream social media apps and Google's own services for the time being. Regarding Android 7.1 Nougat itself, this software is currently only available on the Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL, though more devices should be getting it shortly.