The biggest new change in iOS 10 is the Messages app, which is suddenly a lot more playful with the addition of animations and stickers. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Add Effects to Message Bubbles and Screens
You can now add effects to messages as animated message bubbles and fully animated screens. To get to the effect screen, write your message, then long-press (or hard-press on a 6s or newer phone) on the up arrow next to your message. You’ll see a list of animations you can add to your bubbles:
- Slam: Slams the message bubble onto the screen.
- Loud: Makes the message bigger.
- Gentle: Makes the message smaller.
- Invisible Ink: Requires the person on the receiving end to swipe on the bubble to reveal the message.
You can also tap the Screen tab on the top of the screen to see the full-screen animations. Swipe to the left to cycle between full-screen balloons, confetti, lasers, fireworks and a shooting star. You can’t send bubble effects and full-screen effects at the same time though, so choose your ridiculously animated messages wisely.
If you send one of these to someone without iOS 10, whether that’s another iPhone user or someone on Android, they will just get an awkward description of the effect, like “(sent with Invisible Ink)”.
How to Handwrite a Message
If you long for the days of handwritten messages, iOS 10 lets you to send your own, though it’s a feature that’s rather tucked away and easy to miss:
- Open up Messages.
- Rotate your phone to landscape mode.
- Tap the squiggly button in the bottom right corner.
- Write out your message with your finger, then tap the send button. You’ll also find some stock message if for some reason you want to send those.
When the person with iOS 10 gets your message, they will see it animate just as if you’re writing it in front of them. If they’re not on iOS 10, it will be sent as an image.
Send a Digital Touch Message, Sketch or Draw on Top of Photos
On top of the handwritten messages, iOS 10 adds in a new section called Digital Touch. Here’s how to get to Digital Touch:
- Tap the arrow button on the left side of the text box in Messages.
- Tap the heart icon.
- If you want to get a little more room on the screen, tap the up arrow in the bottom right to expand it to full-screen.
Once you’re here, you can do several things, including drawing a little sketch directly in the black box. Like the handwriting option, this will animate on the receiver’s end as though you’re drawing it live.
You can also send Digital Touch messages by using gestures on the same black canvas. These will be sent immediately after you do the gesture and do not require you to press the send button, so be careful:
- Tap: Tap with one finger to send a little tap animation.
- Fireball: Long press to send a fireball animation.
- Kiss: Tap with two fingers to send a kiss.
- Heartbeat: Tap and hold with two fingers to send a heartbeat animation.
- Heartbreak: Tap and hold with two fingers, then drag down on the screen to send an animation of a breaking heart.
Finally, you can also sketch on top of live video and photos in this same menu. Just tap the video icon and you’re taken to the video screen. Here, you can draw on top of the camera before or during recording video. You can also snap a photo by pressing the photo button on the left, then draw on top of it. If you want, add things like kisses, heartbeats or whatever else to photos and videos by using the gestures listed above. Be careful here though; if you leave the screen idle for about 20 seconds after you snap a picture or draw on a video the message just gets sent automatically.
All of these Digital Touch messages get sent as videos or images to non-iOS 10 users. The videos make sense, but if you just send a single gesture, like a kiss, it gets sent as a single image, which isn’t that fun to look at.
Send Quick Responses with a Tap
If you don’t feel like typing out a full reply to a message, iOS 10 adds quick responses. Just tap and hold on a message you’ve received and the quick message pop-up will show options to send a heart, thumbs up or down, haha, !! or a ? The quick response gets attached directly to the sent message as seen in the image above.
If the recipient is not on iOS 10, they get an awkward message describing what you did, like, “Laughed at “Hey.”
Tap to Replace Words with Emoji
Once you’ve typed out a message, you can easily search to see if any words can be replaced with emoji. Just write your message, then tap the emoji button. The Messages app will highlight any word that can be replaced with an emoji. Tap the word and it gets replaced right away.
Download Extra Apps to Add Your Own Stickers and Make Payments
iOS 10 adds the iMessages App Store. This works just like the regular App Store, but is accessible right from the Messages app and is made for apps that work inside of Messages. Off the bat, you get a GIF search engine and some pre-written notes. Here’s how to access the store for more apps:
- Tap the arrow icon next to the text field in messages.
- Tap the Apps icon.
- Tap the four circles icon in the bottom left.
- Tap the Store button.
Now, you can browse the store. These apps can include all kinds of features, though sticker packs, games and image search engines are probably the most obvious.
Regular apps you already have installed might have iMessages extensions. For example, Yelp has an extension where you can search for restaurants from Messages. From the store page, tap the “Manage button” to see apps that have iMessages Apps.
To install an app, just search for it on the store, then tap the “Get” or “Buy” button just like you would in the App Store. Once you get an app, you can access it by either swiping along the bottom of the screen in the Messages App Store menu, or by tapping the four circles icon in the bottom left.
Send Read Receipts Per Conversation
Want to send read receipts to one friend, but not another? Don’t worry, it’s now possible in iOS 10. Just tap the “i” icon in the top right of a conversation thread, scroll down and tap “Send Read Receipts”.
QuickType Is a Little Smarter
The predictive text in QuickType is getting a little smarter in Messages. Now, it attempts to provide useful answers to questions. For example, if you ask someone for a contact’s phone number, their info appears in the QuickType section. If someone asks you for your location, you get a prompt to send them a map. Right now, this supports a small handful of responses, including calendar availability, location, contact info, recent addresses and multilingual typing.