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Pinterest added support for GIFs to their mobile apps today. The new feature was the result of one of the company’s ‘Make-a-thons,’ described by Pinterest as an “all-night creativity fest.” According to Ludo Antonov, an engineer at Pinterest, a small team of four built the product overnight: “We had been hearing from Pinners that they wanted a way to save GIFs, and quite frankly, I also wanted a way to make my Cats board more playable,” Antonov wrote on Pinterest’s engineering blog.

According to Antonov, these were the team’s goals:

  • Make GIFs playable in the grid and Pin close-up.
  • Maintain an elegant user experience by only playing GIFs when the Pinner clicks them.
  • Minimize waste of speed and bandwidth by using the click-to-play design. As a result, GIFs, which are generally large files, are only loaded with the intent to play.
  • Build with an easy-to-consume API so we could extend to mobile clients.
  • Work closely with design to differentiate experiences on mobile, where it doesn’t make sense to play in the grid. Design was also crucial in helping us quickly build a seamless experience that Pinners would love.

We think the best thing about Pinterest’s GIF capabilities is that they’re click-to-play. Though we love GIFs (especially ones featuring puppies), they can be quite distracting when a bunch of them are playing at once on the same page. The pinned GIFs have a little play/pause button in the bottom left corner:

PinterestGIFs
 
And here’s the same GIF on iOS, where pressing play expands the GIF:
PinterestGIFs2
Courtesy of Antonov’s Cats board

See more Pinterest GIFs on their Valentine’s Day board.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect that the capabilities were added to its mobile apps.