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General News iOS 10 update: The best new features Apple has included in the Messages app
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The Messages app just got a significant update in iOS 10. This is perhaps the most relevant iOS 10 update for users, one that lets them instantly dive into and experience richer conversations. There are speech bubble animations, stickers and special effects added. The features move the messages app from the minimalism that Apple is known for, but the features still show the careful consideration behind new additions. There is a new iMessage app store, that allows users to consume free and paid content through the messaging platform.

Write out your messages

Users can now scribble messages using their fingers directly onto a drawing area instead of a keyboard. This is a nice personal touch, and feels like passing along digital handwritten notes. The notes aren’t just sent as static images, the precise finger movements made when writing the note is recorded. This recording is played back from start to end when viewed. The feature is similar to watching someone draw in Draw Something 2.

Additionally, text can be appended to the written notes. On the iPad there is a scribble icon that lets you bring up the menu. On the iPhone, you have to switch orientation to landscape mode to bring up the writing space.

Digital Touch

The Digital Touch is similar to the feature that lets you write out messages. Digital Touch seems to be made for the Apple Watch, considering the dimensions of the generated media. Users can scribble out messages in this interface as well, but the animations don’t flow like real ink, instead there is a futuristic neon colour scheme where the leading edge is a white blur. The writing or drawing does play back the animations, but only in iOS 10 devices. Older operating systems will just get a static image.

Tapping, shows an animation of the taps in the form of imploding circles. A number of gestures are implemented for cool animations. Pressing with one finger generates a fireball. Tapping with two fingers, displays a kiss. Pressing and holding makes a beating heart show up, which can be sent if you release the fingers. Dragging the fingers down while the heart is beating makes the heart break. The feature allows you to superimpose these effects and drawings over images or videos.

Attach emotions to messages

Every message bubble can be sent with another emotion bubble to provide additional context. These can be attached to any message, including text and stickers. The interactive menu looks similar to the Like button used by Facebook. A heart, a thumbs up, a thumbs down, laughter, exclamations and a question mark are the available options that can be attacked to a sticker or text messages.

Advanced Stickers

Stickers are the hot new feature for Messages. A sticker has an interactive menu similar to the Facebook Like button. Stickers can be slapped onto text bubbles, photos, and other stickers. This allows for the creation of compound stickers, and makes sticker use appear more diverse. The same sticker looks different because of the attached emotions, and makes stickers something more than the big brother of emoji. There is a sticker section in the iMessages App Store, which has on offer both sticker sets and emoji sets. There are stickers from Star Wars, Disney, Buzz Feed, Angry Birds and Marvel, among others.

Reaction image search

There is an integrated functionality in messages that allows users to search for reaction images and videos. The search throws up mostly gifs, and these can be instantly sent through messages. This is useful for sending in emotions such as grinning, sadness, happiness or anger. The feature is similar to Gboard by Google , which brings the power of Google search to the keyboard.

Bubble and Screen Effects

Long pressing the send button after typing in text brings up the Bubble and Screen Effects menu. The Bubble effects also impact the entire screen though. The Slam for example allows users to throw text bubbles onto the screen, shaking up the whole window when it lands. There are bubble options for Loud, Gentle and Invisible Ink. The animations play out when the messages are delivered. Invisible ink shows a cloud of particles, till it is wiped with a finger to “reveal” the hidden image.

The Screen animations ads background animations to the whole screen. Floating multicoloured balloons, falling confetti, a colour changing laser scanner, fireworks and a shooting star are the options available at this point of time. The animations are not persistant, and stop after a few seconds of playback.

Tap for emoji

This is a feature that encourages users to communicate in rebus style puzzles. After a message is typed out, tapping on the emoji button shows a wiping animation highlighting the words in the message that can be swapped out for emoji. Tapping on the highlighted words, replaces the words with emoji.

iMessages App Store

There is a dedicated iMessages App Store now. The store has apps and games on offer, along with stickers. While there are applications that use artificial intelligence in the store, there are no chatbots as yet, or maybe they are just not called chatbots. They are applications embedded in the conversational platform. Applications are available in various categories, including Entertainment, Food and Drink, Lifestyle, and Productivity.

The #images and Music apps are pre-installed. Swiping the chat interface switches from one bot to the next. There is a manage option in the store, that allows users to select which Apps are easily available in the keyboard. For a newly launched store, there is quite a bit of content available.

Video

These additions are relevant, and something that will be immediately familiar to consumers used to more featured messaging clients, such as Hike or Telegram. Apple Messages now has robust features included. However, considering the abysmally low market share in India, there are bound to be few people in your contacts list that you can actually use these cool features with. It would be great if Apple could find a way to introduce Messages on the Play store.

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