Facebook has announced changes to its mobile app that will let users replace their static profile pictures with a looping seven-second video in the style of a GIF.

The social network is introducing the feature on its mobile app for “a small number of iPhone users in the UK and California” and says it plans to roll them out to more people soon.

Facebook is calling the feature “profile videos”. They allow users to film a seven-second clip within the Facebook app, which then shows up as their profile picture when people visit it.

The new pictures profile as a GIF.

The new profile pictures as a GIF.

While not technically GIFs, they capture the spirit of the animated images.

Facebook has slowly embraced GIFs. It added support for them earlier this year, and is now adding animation in profile pictures alongside a number of other profile changes.

“On News Feed and profiles, we’re seeing people create and view more videos than ever before. Today we’re starting to test the next step in an obvious evolution of profiles: profile videos,” Facebook said.

<iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/140852546″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

“Soon, you’ll be able to film a short, looping video clip that will play for anyone who visits your profile. Profile videos will let show a part of yourself you couldn’t before, and add a new dimension to your profile.”

In addition to animated profile pictures, Facebook is introducing temporary profile pictures, which revert back to the original picture after a certain period of time.

This feature is designed to be useful for periods when users are offline such as holidays; or for a specific event like a birthday or campaign. Facebook says 26 million users added a rainbow filter when it offered the option during Pride in June.

Facebook's temporary profile pictures

Facebook’s temporary profile pictures

The options come as part of a series of changes to Facebook’s profiles on its smartphone app.

It will move the profile picture to the centre of the app and allow more control over what biographical information features at the top of a profile.

But let’s face it, this is all about those GIF-like profile pictures. Twitter allowed GIFs for profile pictures in its early days, but in 2012 said users could no longer add them.

Some Twitter users have been stubborn enough to stick with their animated avatars since then.