It looks like WhatsApp will soon be able to support animated GIFs. According to the latest beta release for its iOS app, the app will be able to load and auto play GIF links right from your conversation.
According to @WABetaInfo, a Twitter account that tracks changes to WhatsApp beta updates, the latest WhatsApp version 18.104.22.168 will play GIF links. This means that you will no longer have to exit WhatsApp and open up the link on a browser just to see what your friend is sending you. The changelog also notes that the version of WhatsApp will allow users to save GIFs “as a simple image”.
Sadly though, if you were hoping to share GIFs like you do on other messengers like Facebook Messenger, you won’t be able to do so. The changelog says that you cannot directly import GIF images, only links, which will load in the conversation itself.
Other changes in WhatsApp version 22.214.171.124 for iOS include improved encryption, the ability to temporarily add a participant in a chat group, plenty of improvements, but fixes and more. Check out @WABetaInfo’s Pastebin post for the full change log.