Android has long supported third-party keyboards, certainly much longer than iOS has. The third-party keyboards available for Android normally focus on providing a better typing experience. As of Android 7.1, the default Google Keyboard now supports GIF search. With GIF support, you no longer need to install a third-party keyboard to look for and send GIFs. The support is built-in like it is for emoji. You can switch to the GIF interface, search GIFs by topic, and send them with a tap.
Open the Messages app, or any other app that lets you input text. Tap the little smiley button next to the space bar. You will switch to the emoji keyboard. On the emoji keyboard, there’s a new GIF button next to the space bar. Tap it.
The GIF layout has categories that you can search through for the right GIFs. If the categories don’t meet your needs, you can search for the right GIF from the built-in search feature. When you find the right GIF to send, simply tap to send it. The Messages app will be able to play them in Android 7.1.
The GIFs are sourced from all over the internet. Popular GIF repositories like Imgur, Giphy, and Tumblr are just some of the websites the keyboard sources GIFs from.
You don’t necessarily need to run Android 7.1 if all you’re looking for is a way to send GIFs. You can install the Giphy app for Android. The experience might not be the same as being able to search for and send it from the keyboard but it does the trick. Flesky is a GIF keyboard app that gives you a much closer experience to the one you would get in Android 7.1.
You must be running Android 7.1 in order to use the GIF feature in the default keyboard. At present, Android 7.1 is only available on the Android Beta program.