GIF support has long been rumored to be the next great update WhatsApp developers would bring to their users. It seems that for months this feature has been semi-implemented. In August, we were able to see a little bit of the supposed GIF support through an option they offered. You could convert videos that had maximum 6 seconds into GIFs that could be shared with your contacts. Now this possibility lies hidden in the APK for several months, and some people were able to enable it with a root hack. This is official for all beta testers.
The 2.16.293 beta version for WhatsApp finally listens to its users and adds a third GIFs tab when you add a media file from your Gallery, right next to the Videos and Photos. There you will find all the animated GIFs that are stored on your device and you can pick one. You c an also preview it, add a caption to it and share with a contact or a group. The ones you send will be able to be previewed in the chat window so you don’t need to jump from one app to another in order to see it.
The GIFs you receive are stored in a WhatsApp Animated Gifs folder you find in the WhatsApp directory, so you can find them there if you use a file browser or a Gallery that has folder viewer. Keep in mind that WhatsApp is compressing the files to mp4 format, in order to save up your data, so you are actually sending mp4 files. However, they do behave like they are GIFs.
You can download the new WhatsApp version from APK Mirror or if you join the Play Store beta program and download it from there. Keep in mind that it might still have some bugs.