As has been proven through the updates we’ve seen in many popular messaging applications, users love enhancing their chat experience with new emojis. When a new keyboard app is able to bring fresh emojis and art to apps like Kik Messenger, you can bet that users are going to be eager to get their hands on it.
More than ever before, we like communicating in shorthand expressions that allow us to insert symbols and graphics in place of words. We utilize simple (yet entertaining!) artwork to express out moods and feelings amidst our words ( 😀 ). Though every age group tends to eventually embrace fresh forms of digital expression when made available, youths tend to leap into it first. Kik Messenger has over 200 million registered users, and many of its millions of daily users are younger than 21.
To say that Kik is popular with young people is a laughable understatement, but let’s go ahead and say it here anyway. If you’re a youth with a smartphone, you’re either already on Kik, or your friends are going to convince you to join it.
Though Kik has recently added a “Kik Points” digital currency that allows its users to purchase emoji and graphics from a “Smiley Shop,” there are plentiful other ways to get new and interesting emoji into your messaging experience. Separate apps will modify your mobile device’s keyboard, giving you access to hundreds of emoji that you can snap into a message whenever you like. Some of the apps carry a small expense, some of them are free, and some are only free to download, and will ping you with in-app purchase offers after you’ve installed them.
I’d ask you, readers, to raise your hands if you’ve ever been annoyed be repetitive “in-app expenses” that block you out of potentially fun digital content, but I think that we’ve all been there. This, then, is where the good news begins.
Recently, Kik Messenger began a partnership with a startup called Riffsy. Recognizing users’ desire to express themselves through graphics in their daily messaging, Kik and Riffsy have introduced a new keyboard that allows people to embed GIF images into their chats. These GIFs are highly unique, fun, and always freshly inspired by the entertainment world. Frequently, Riffsy grants access to GIF images based on hot entertainment brands. New films will crop up with GIFs of their own, and you’ll occasionally see images of everything from music artists to WWE wrestling stars.
Surprisingly, many Kik users don’t even know how to get their hands on this feature. I’ll explain below, and you may find that you no longer need to search for alternatives in other apps.
How Do I Access Kik’s New Keyboard?
emoji (noun)- a picture used to show emotion or intent
Don’t you realize, you already have access to Kik’s new keyboard?
Levity aside, Kik’s partnership with Riffsy means that as long as your Kik Messenger app is up to date, you already have the GIF keyboard embedded within Kik. Simply tap the “+” icon in your message entry bar to bring up your text alternatives, and select the GIF icon.
Initially, you’ll be presented with a row of familiar looking emoji. This may be why you’ve glanced past the feature before. However, you’ll also notice that the GIF keyboard has a search bar. Try typing any frequently used topical word into it, such as “love, meme, John Travolta,” or quite literally anything you’d like to find a GIF image of, and you’ll very likely be rewarded with a library of potential images to choose from. Frequently updated from huge, popular image sites such as Imgur, the GIF Keyboard can give your chat experience a whole new level of customization.
Calling it a “keyboard” is a bit of misnomer, however. Whereas many emoji and graphic keyboards require you to manually switch the active keyboard on your mobile device, the “GIF Keyboard” built into Kik Messenger actually doesn’t. This is a small godsend since swapping between active keyboards simply for the sake of posting a single emoji consumes almost more time than the task is worth. Instead, GIF Keyboard brings up a skimmable window of available GIFs based on your search query, allowing you to keep your primary typing keyboard active while still browsing a plethora of fun images.
Will GIF Keyboard Replace My Emoji Keyboard?
Possibly! In truth, this is far more dependent upon how frequently you rely on emoji in your chat experience. Based on the way that Kik has rolled out its “Kik Points” beta program, the app seems to be heading in the direction of being a self-sufficient chat powerhouse that won’t require additional keyboard applications in order to give you the messaging experience that you want. Need proof? Take a look at the “Smiley Shop” in Kik’s web browser, and compare what’s available there to the plethora of emoji keyboards available on both app stores.
They’re good, aren’t they?
The only obstacle standing in the way of the Smiley Shop becoming more popular is the necessity of Kik Points, which can only be gained at a marginal rate based on how often you’re invited to participate in Kik’s sponsored and promoted chat activities. While some users have found ways to hack the application, thereby gaining Kik Points faster (hint: don’t do it!), you’ll usually gain Kik Points at a steady rate that allows you to only occasionally make purchases from the Smiley Shop.
First off, the Kik Points system is still in beta. Kik users awaiting an update in 2016 should look forward to how the developers decide to expand this system, which has proven popular so far. Secondly, Riffsy’s GIF Keyboard is already fully integrated, and among the first of its kind to be a fully featured function of a chat application that doesn’t require an external download or separate keyboard.
It’s impossible to say if the GIF Keyboard will serve as a replacement to actual downloadable graphic keyboards, but I think that it certainly stands a chance to.
Other Tips & Tricks
While the GIF Keyboard is incredibly accessible, there are a few things that users should know about how it functions.
For parents of Kik users, it’s important to know that some of the content in the GIF Keyboard might be considered inappropriate for young children. Certainly, you won’t find anything particularly explicit or more graphic than the type of content you’d find on a popular television sitcom, but youths who are considered too young for that type of humor will be confronted with it frequently in the popular GIF images found in the app.
It’s hard to recommend a solution to this for a couple of reasons:
- First, Kik is an online messaging tool that isn’t particularly recommended for young children. Second, the GIF Keyboard is fully integrated into the application itself. There isn’t a current way to turn the feature off though you certainly don’t have to use it. My recommendation for concerned parents is to carry on as they always do–be mindful and watchful of your child’s app usage.
- Secondly, keep an eye on that battery life! While typing, sending and receiving text messages through Kik doesn’t consume an enormous amount of battery, frequent loading and use of the GIF Keyboard will certainly spike your battery consumption. For users that pay attention to battery usage, this is likely a no-brainer; your mobile device is going to require more to display dozens of animated images than it does when simply displaying text or static graphics.
The best way to circumvent this? Don’t use the GIF Keyboard to browse GIFs for your own entertainment. Use that search bar to narrow down the type of image you’re looking to attach to your message, and find it quickly! After all, the very purpose of the GIF Keyboard is to make the use of these graphics more fluid and accessible. If you start noticing a sharp decrease in your mobile device’s battery life, your new use of GIF images in Kik messages may be partially responsible. Many Android and iOS devices offer built-in software tools to measure battery life so that you can confirm your suspicions.
Mobile messaging apps have been quick to embrace the emoji trend, each featuring implementation of these fun graphics in their own way. It’s not a new trend, and nor is it going away anytime soon. As long as we’re still using text to communicate with each other, forms of visual expression that accompany our words will always be popular.
If you’re a fan of popular image-based entertainment website such as Imgur, you’ll find a lot to love in the GIF Keyboard. As a rather new addition to Kik Messenger’s set of ever-expanding features, expect to see it fine-tuned through future updates in 2016. As more users take advantage of this convenient alternative to annoying keyboard swapping, the types, and quantity of GIFs that we see in the keyboard is likely to expand.
As was stated before, the GIF Keyboard is becoming more popular, but it certainly hasn’t dethroned the ever-present emoji keyboard trend that’s still prolific across nearly every app store. If you’re frequently looking for ways to add new art and emoji to your chat experience, give this new Kik feature a try!