A Guide to Apple's Radically Reimagined Messages App

By Darren Orf on at

At WWDC, Apple showed of a crazy new version of Messages. Feeling pressure from other messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Google’s new Allo, Apple has completely reimagined its app for the youths. In just the few days we’ve spent with iOS 10’s developer preview, we’ve found more than a dozen new features just within Messages alone. It’s likely more are coming.

Here’s a longer breakdown of everything new in Messages.


App Store

Facebook Messenger has an app store, so you better believe Messages is going to have one, too. Marked by the familiar App Store icon, the feature is currently bare bones, but Apple demoed apps from JibJab and others during WWDC, so this space will likely fill up with more and more apps as the software gets ready for its full release in the autumn.

A Guide to Apple's Radically Reimagined Messages App
Snapchat-ification demoed at WWDC.

Snapchat-ification

Scribbling is always fun, right? You can send simple messages on a black background or take a photo or selfie and annotate over top of the photo. Like Snapchat, these messages are fleeting and will eventually disappear unless you decide otherwise.

Big Emoji

Apple maxes out the emoji when you type up to three in your message. Any more than three, and the emoji will return to their “normal” size.

Convert text to Emoji

If you hate hunting for the right emoji, Messages now does all the searching for you. When you type out a message then hit the alternate keyboard button, Messages will match the text of words with corresponding emoji. Curiously, the emoji dodn’t work yet.

A Guide to Apple's Radically Reimagined Messages App
Demo of animated texts during WWDC

Animated texts

Now, you can send texts with bigger fonts, an animated “smash” effect, or smaller text, meant to represent a whisper. Similar features also made its way to Google’s Allo messaging platform. You can also hide messages with “invisible ink” that Apple says provides drama to the conversation. Sure! Whatever!

Quick reply to messages

Don’t even have time for a text? Just respond with a quick reply. Think of it as a voluntary read receipt. Long press a text (or double tap an image) and you get a selection of quick replies ranging from thumbs up/down to “haha” and various grammar symbols. Never type “k” again!

Heartbeat

A feature from the Apple Watch comes to the iPhone. I’m sure Apple thinks of it as a way to share a “deeper connection” with your friends and family. Once you hit send, it animates an image of your unique heartbeat. Seems kind of useless, but there it is.

Full screen animated texts

If you ever wondered why you can’t turn your Messages into a mini rave, Apple has finally answered your question. Also includes, balloons, confetti, and fireworks.

Improved Quick Typing

This is arguably Messages most useful new feature. In 0ne example, when someone asks “Where r u?” or some variation, iOS 10’s improved Quick Typing immediately offers up a pin of your geolocation as a possible response.

Different incoming text bubbles

With all these new ways of communicating, Apple needed to dream up new ways of message stalking. Depending on the kind of text someone is sending, the “pending” bubble will correspond to the design of that message.

Deep Linking

With Deep Linking garish URLs are rendered instead as an image of a website with some title text. It helps keep the conversation looking like, well, a conversation, not a vomit of internet code. It also helps quick reference locations.

A Guide to Apple's Radically Reimagined Messages App
Craig Federighi shows off the new in-message camera at WWDC.

Take pictures in Messages

Now, when you hit the camera button above the keyboard, you have access to not only your photos but also a live feed of your front or back camera. It makes sending photo references or selfies stupid simple.

Handwriting

Tilting the phone sideways now brings up a physical writing interface (this can be easily dismissed). The message then enters the text field as an image, which you can then send. Awesome for big iPhones like the 6s Plus, likely less awesome on smaller models like the SE.

Video: Nicholas Stango