Facebook-owned photo sharing platform Instagram has introduced a new option in its Stories feature, enabling users to add animated GIF stickers into pictures or video.
The move appears to be a deliberate mirror of similar functions available in rival photo-messaging app Snapchat, which earlier today introduced a feature enabling users to share selected Snapchat Stories on third-party platforms.
Instagram's new tool will enable users to access thousands of stickers supported by GIF database GIPHY, which can be added to any photo or video in the app's Stories feature. Users can browse currently trending GIFs, explore hand-curated recommendation pages or search through a constantly evovling library.
"Today we're bringing the expressive language of GIFs to Instagram Stories," said an Instagram spokesperson in a statement announcing the feature. "Now, you can add vibrant, animated GIF stickers to any photo or video and immediately turn any moment into something fun and shareable."
Among the GIF stickers available are animated accessories that can be layered over faces, effects such as sparkles, fire, glitter and explosions, and 'peekers', GIFs that appear to pop up and disappear from images. These options in particular appear to compete with Snapchat's Lens Studio feature, which was announced at the close of last year.
Instagram also announced that in the coming weeks, Stories will be updated to enable users to upload photos and videos of any size. When uploading content to Stories, users can choose to zoom in on images to fill the screen, or fill in any empty space with custom colour gradient backgrounds.