As messaging apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have attracted iPhone users with their host of fun features, Apple's iMessage has long stood in contrast, offering simple, straightforward text messaging - and little else. With iOS 10, however, Apple looks ready to take off its gloves in the fight against third-party messaging apps, bringing a lengthy list of dynamic features directly to its own native messaging app.
From silly stickers and playful animations to payments and invisible ink, Apple is packing more into its newest Messages app than ever before. Here's a sneak peek of what you can expect when iOS 10 hits iPhones and iPads this fall:
An instant favorite on the Apple keyboard, emojis will get the star treatment in iOS 10. No longer will you have to squint to make out the details on each tiny illustration - they appear several times larger when sent in the new Messages app. Plus, iMessage's predictive text feature will now suggest emojis based on the words you type, making it easier to find that elephant or slice of pizza in a pinch.
For the first time in iMessage in iOS 10, you'll be able to add effects to the little text bubbles that appear after you press "Send." A quick 3D Touch (or tap and hold) on the send arrow pulls up a new menu full of animations that dictate how your message appears on the screen. Some will send your text bubbles slamming down on the screen, while others conjure fireworks, confetti or a laser show along with your words. Perhaps most interesting is the option to deliver a text or photo in "invisible ink," which renders the message illegible until the recipient swipes over it. Then, after a few seconds, it vanishes again.
Plus, a set of all-new stickers lets users react to each other's messages, adding icons like a thumbs up, heart or question mark to individual messages as they appear on the screen.
Apple Watch wearers will find a familiar feature among the new updates, as Digital Touch makes its way to iOS for the first time. Texters who draw or tap on the Digital Touch canvas can have their message played back in real time on the recipient's screen. iOS 10 will also support Handwriting, allowing users to sketch and send a message or drawing to their friends directly within Messages.
How many times have you found yourself jumping back and forth between your messaging app and web browser, looking up restaurants or movie times while trying to coordinate a plan with a friend? In iOS 10, you'll be able to do all of that and more without leaving Messages. With a few swipes, you can convert the keyboard into a mini search bar, making it easier than ever to reference that list of movie times or send restaurant reviews without interrupting the conversation.
Similar to Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, the new Messages app will allow you to take, send and even edit photos without leaving the conversation. Need to show someone exactly what you're talking about or react with a quick selfie? With iOS 10, that'll be easier than ever.
While it has added plenty of fun new features to Messenger already, Apple has no plans to limit what can come to the app in the future. With its all-new App Drawer, Apple will open the iMessage platform up to developers, allowing them to create new apps that can run within the conversation environment. For example, Apple has already created an app for Apple Music, which allows you to send and play songs from your Library directly in a conversation. Third-parties have been quick to follow suit, adding tools that enable peer-to-peer payments, new ways to send art and more.
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