Get to know Mes­sages in iOS 10

Emoji, vis­ual ef­fects and third-party in­te­gra­tions make Mes­sages more than a tex­ting app. Os­car Ray­mundo re­ports

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Ap­ple worked for a year on a new file sys­tem, but ac­cord­ing to Craig Fed­erighi, “ev­ery time we’d add a cou­ple new emoji, it would be the big­gest thing.” So, in iOS 10 emo­jis are three times big­ger. Not only that, but Ap­ple added a hand­ful of vis­ual tricks to Mes­sages, and trans­formed iMes­sage into a plat­form for third-party apps.

Need­less to say, there’s a lot you can do in the new Mes­sage, so let’s get started. These fea­tures have been made avail­able via the iOS 10 pub­lic beta, but we ex­pect them to get re­fined be­fore the fi­nal iOS re­lease this au­tumn.

In ad­di­tion, the re­cip­i­ent will also need to have in­stalled iOS 10 in or­der to view most of these mes­sages in all their eye-pop­ping glory. Oth­er­wise they show up as reg­u­lar text with a de­scrip­tion of what the vis­ual should have been, like (sent with fire­works). Not nearly as cap­ti­vat­ing. And An­droid users won’t be able to ex­pe­ri­ence these vis­ual ef­fects at all.

Emoji na­tion

When Ap­ple an­nounced that emo­jis in iOS 10 would be three times big­ger dur­ing WWDC, the crowd cheered. In or­der to get the su­per-sized ver­sions, how­ever, you have to send an mes­sage con­tain­ing only emo­jis. Adding text shows reg­u­lar-sized emo­jis.

On top of that, Mes­sages has a new emoji re­place­ment tool for con­vert­ing key­words into cor­re­spond­ing emo­jis. For ex­am­ple, the text “I love mon­keys” turns into “I ” – all you have to do is com­pose your mes­sage and then tap on the emoji but­ton. Then tap on the high­lighted key­words to choose from the cor­re­spond­ing emo­jis.

Bub­ble and full-screen ef­fects

If send­ing an emo­ji­fied mes­sage is not enough to grab your friend’s at­ten­tion, you can rely on all-new

bub­ble ef­fects and full-screen vi­su­als. After typ­ing your mes­sage, press down on the blue up-ar­row on the right of the in­put field. That will take you a ‘send with ef­fect’ page where you can slide up to se­lect your text to ap­pear as ‘Gen­tle’ like a whis­per, ‘Loud’ as if you’re yelling, or ‘Slam’ down on the screen. Here, you can also choose ‘In­vis­i­ble Ink”’ to send a hid­den mes­sage or photo that the re­cip­i­ent can re­veal by swip­ing away the par­ti­cles.

Tog­gle from these bub­ble ef­fects to screen ef­fects to send your mes­sage with a full-screen an­i­ma­tion. Swipe be­tween send­ing with bal­loons, con­fetti, lasers, fire­works or shoot­ing star. The ef­fects ap­pear for a few sec­onds when the re­cip­i­ent opens the mes­sage. Lasers, fire­works, and shoot­ing star also come with sound. After you’ve se­lected an ef­fect, you can press the blue up-ar­row again to send or the ‘x’ to can­cel.

Dig­i­tal Touch

A fea­ture that orig­i­nated on the Ap­ple Watch has come to iOS 10. Tap on the icon with the heart and the two fingers that sits on the right of the in­put

field to ac­cess Dig­i­tal Touch. Here, you can doo­dle and in­sert an­i­ma­tions on ei­ther a black can­vas or on a photo or video. Se­lect from seven colours on the right of the can­vas and you can use one fin­ger to sketch, hold two fingers to cre­ate a beat­ing heart, tap gen­tly to cre­ate a van­ish­ing cir­cle made out of par­ti­cles, tap with two fingers to cre­ate lips, drag down with two fingers to cre­ate a bro­ken heart, and press down to cre­ate a glow­ing burst. You can tap on the cam­era icon on the left to add all these an­i­ma­tions to a selfie, too.

Just be aware that as soon as you let go of your fingers on the black can­vas, the an­i­ma­tion will be sent to the re­cip­i­ent, so make sure you have a clear vi­sion of what you want to cre­ate be­fore putting pen to pa­per, or fin­ger to screen in this case. These an­i­mated cards show up on the Ap­ple Watch, as well, as long as it’s run­ning the lat­est watchOS 3. They show up as still at­tach­ments on iOS 9.


Dig­i­tal Touch is not the only way you can use your fin­ger to ex­press your­self in the new Mes­sages. Turn your iPhone hor­i­zon­tally to land­scape mode, and you’ll be able to use hand­writ­ing. Here, you can se­lect from seven pre-pop­u­lated hand­writ­ten mes­sages like ‘happy birth­day’ and ‘think­ing of you’. Or you can just keep the font and cre­ate your own mes­sage by tap­ping ‘Clear’ to­wards the top.

If the re­cip­i­ent has in­stalled iOS 10 as well, these mes­sages are dis­played stroke by stroke, as if they had been hand­writ­ten in real-time. The ink also has a dry­ing ef­fect for an authen­tic pen-on-pa­per feel. If the re­cip­i­ent has iOS 9, these hand­writ­ten mes­sages show up as still at­tach­ments.

App Store and third-party in­te­gra­tions

Per­haps the most pro­found change iOS 10 brings to Mes­sage is the in­te­gra­tion of third-party in­te­gra­tions, turn­ing iMes­sage into a plat­form. Ac­cess your iMes­sage app drawer by tap­ping on the icon right next to the in­put field on the

left. The launch iMes­sage apps in­clude Re­cents, Mu­sic, and Images. As with iOS apps, you can press down on them to make them wig­gle and rear­range them or delete them.

Re­cents dis­plays your re­cently-sent mes­sages, whether it’s a Dig­i­tal Touch cre­ation or a hand­writ­ten mes­sage. Mu­sic lets you share your most re­cently played song from Ap­ple Mu­sic that will play in-line (more on that in the next sec­tion). Images lets you search the web for pho­tos, videos, and GIFs. The im­age search re­sults are pow­ered by Bing, and they seemed pretty com­pa­ra­ble to the GIF searches in Google’s Gboard iOS key­board.

When in­tro­duc­ing iMes­sage apps at WWDC, Ap­ple showed off in­te­gra­tions from DoorDash to cre­ate a group food or­der and Dis­ney to send Don­ald Duck stick­ers. But in the pub­lic beta, the launch in­te­gra­tions are un­der­whelm­ing. You can tap on the Store to get four more in­te­gra­tions – Smi­leys, Clas­sic Mac, Hearts, and Hands – but these are all apps for even more stick­ers. There is

no Venmo app, no Drop­box app, and no bots... yet. But that is the prom­ise of iMes­sage as a plat­form.

There’s an op­tion to au­to­mat­i­cally add iMes­sage in­te­gra­tions from iOS apps you in­stall, which could come in handy as more third-party ser­vices cre­ate mes­sag­ing ex­ten­sions in the fu­ture. We can also see iMes­sage apps re­plac­ing some third-party keyboards for iOS, espe­cially keyboards whose sole func­tion is send­ing GIFs or special emoji, such as Ki­moji.

Me­dia and vis­ual links

Lastly, Mes­sages in iOS 10 has redesigned the way you at­tach me­dia, whether it’s a photo in your cam­era roll or a video you’ve recorded in-app on the spot. Tap on the cam­era icon and the key­board be­comes a me­dia hub with a viewfinder for tak­ing pho­tos or video right there and then. You can con­tinue brows­ing your cam­era roll by swip­ing left, or launch the Cam­era app or Photo Li­brary by swip­ing right.

Also, when you send a URL to an ar­ti­cle on the Web, Mes­sages au­to­mat­i­cally turns it into a pre­view with a head­line and im­age pulled from the link. Sim­i­larly, you can send a link to YouTube or Vimeo and have the re­cip­i­ents watch the video in-line. You can also play tracks from Ap­ple Mu­sic with­out leav­ing Mes­sages. There’s ac­tu­ally an iMes­sage app for shar­ing songs from Ap­ple Mu­sic. In fact, ev­ery URL we sent showed up as a vis­ual link, even Spo­tify tracks, although much to no one’s sur­prise, you’re not able to play those in-line.

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