GIFs have long ruled the email animation game, but recently, animated PNGs, or APNGs, are taking center stage as an exciting, higher-quality alternative to traditional GIF email animations.
While the history of APNGs dates back to 2004, they are only now almost fully accepted and rendered by most major email service providers.
What Are Animated PNGs?
An animated PNG is similar to a GIF in that it is a short image sequence or clip used to display animation on websites, in messaging, and within email marketing.
An APNG, Animated Portable Network Graphic, supports 24-bit color as well as 24-bit transparency, creating a high-quality animation with a transparent background.
Pros of Using Animated PNGs in Email
Animated PNGs produce higher quality animations with a full range of color depths that give your animation a clean, crisp look, while GIFs apply a rough white edge around graphical elements when set on a colored background.
APNGs have a transparent background, allowing animations to be placed on different types of backgrounds without loss of quality or crispness of the image.
Another exciting advantage of using APNGs is that it adds a layer of interactivity within the email, allowing animations to be turned on and off using a switch within the email.
Cons of Using Animated PNGs in Email
The major concern with using an animated PNG in email is that two major email clients, Gmail (both webmail and mobile app) and Outlook, don’t fully support this type of animated email and only show the first frame of the animation.
However, this is likely to change in the near future as this type of animation becomes more widely used in email.
APNG vs. GIF – What’s Better?
APNGs support a color depth of up to 24 bits, over 16 million colors and an unlimited frame rate, while the GIF supports a color depth of only 8 bits, is limited to only 256 colors, and has a max of 10 frames per second.
Keep in mind that higher-quality animations typically lead to increased file size, meaning slower loading times, but since the APNG typically has a smaller file size and better compression behavior than a GIF, the APNG’s quality advantage still holds true.
In short, animated PNGs will bring more colors, quality, and introduce transparency to your email animations drawing more attention and engagement.
With increased support across email clients than CSS animation, paired with the option to use a GIF fallback for the two clients that don’t yet support APNGs, it’s safe to say that animated PNGs will continue to rise in popularity.