Back on October 11, the Android team detailed a new feature for Android 7.1, known as “image keyboard support.” With this, app developers could build in code that lets an app relay the types of content they support to a utilized keyboard. With Android 7.1+ available for a few devices this week, we are now beginning to see this feature being used.
On my Nexus 6P running Android 7.1.1, I can open up Google’s Messenger app, then directly input GIF images right into a message thread from the Google Keyboard. For example, if a conversation calls for a mic drop, I can easily add in a “mic drop” GIF. From what I have seen, users can choose from a variety of GIFs in different categories, or even search for a specific emotion or action.
Accessing this feature is very easy: Open up the keyboard within a supported app and text field, then hit the “smiley” button. From here, you will see a new option for “GIF.” Hit that, and all of the world’s GIFs will be at your fingertips.
While this is all great and groovy, no other app appears to be supported besides Messenger. That means no Gmail, Hangouts, or anything else, at least for the time being.
Here’s the exact description from when Google detailed what’s new in Android 7.1.
- Image keyboard support — expands the types of content that users can enter from their keyboards, letting them express themselves through custom stickers, animated gifs, and more. Apps can tell the keyboard what types of content they accept, and keyboards can deliver all of the images and other content that they offer to the user. For broad compatibility, this API will also be available in the support library.
So, while this implementation is currently quite limited, do know that support should be coming to additional apps in the near future. And that, folks, is exciting. If you use or know of an app that can benefit from this, let the developer know.
If you are running the necessary build of Android, check it out.
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