January 29, 2010

iPad hearts Gifs

oclzjWithin minutes of the iPad announcement from Apple, the blogs and Twittersphere lit up with complaints about what it lacked rather than what it offered. No camera, multi-tasking etc. One of the biggest gripes (even from Adobe itself) is the continued lack of support for Flash. The iPad isn’t the ultimate web surfing experience if you don’t have access to all those amazing Flash websites, videos and (dare I say it?) banners.

Of course, with all Flash banners you are expected to provide a gif backup just in case the user has no Flash plugin. Now those poor, neglected gifs will be taking centre stage on the iPad.

felixwalkLet’s take a little walk back in time to the early days of the web when 12k gif banners were all you had to play with. To steal from a blog post by Valerie Potter of Computerworld.com “the venerable GIF89a image format, released by CompuServe in 1989, allowed you to store multiple images in the same file; the images being displayed one after another, like a flipbook. It’s was great format for simple animations. Animated GIFs were immensely popular in the Web’s early years. They were quick to load (which was of paramount importance when most people were using dial-up), often silly and usually lots of fun”. The Dole gif banner at the top was not an example of how gifs usually looked – 928k not being the norm.

coffeeSo here’s the challenge to digital creatives everywhere. Don’t forget the humble gif after spending hours making the coolest Flash banner. Your gif may not be a direct translation of your Flash banner either because it probably won’t work. Think about the limitations of the gif animation and adapt your concept accordingly. Hey, you may even surprise yourself and come up with something like this from Almap BBDO in brazil. Their Coffee Piloa banner was deceptively simple and won a Gold Lions at Cannes. It shows milk continually pouring into a cup of black coffee, but the coffee never changes colour. The message? This is strong coffee.

So maybe the gif is going to have a comeback! Your younger interactive designer may not even have heard of them and will laugh like kids seeing a vinyl record. But sometimes you can do an awful lot with just very little. The only downside? Perhaps only those using the iPad will get to see the result.

Comments (1)

  1. August 11, 2010
    Phil said...


    The iPad can’t run GIFs. At least none that I have loaded have worked. Even simple ones.

Leave a Reply