Apple announced a slew of updates for iMessage today during the opening keynote of its week-long Worldwide Developers Conference. The updates will come with iOS 10 when it is released this fall.
Before the general public gets the updates, however, registered developers get to test everything on iOS 10 in beta form — starting today. It will likely come out in September when the iPhone 7 hits the stands.
The Messages app is the most-used app on the iPhone, and it’s stayed fairly true to its basic texting function over the years. With apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google’s upcoming Allo, though, simple texting has become a thing of the past. Now, Apple has a rebuttal with features that will make iMessage cool again — features that are remarkably similar to everything the above apps already (or will) do.
Goodbye simple texting, hello one-stop, all-inclusive messaging tool. Here are the coolest features Apple’s senior vice president Craig Federighi announced today.
5. Bigger emojis
“People really love emoji,” Federighi said. “And now, we’ve made them three times bigger, which is fantastic.”
Why is this so fantastic? Because iMessages is going to help you use emojis instead of words.
4. Emojis: The new dominate form of written language
The new iMessage will be able to predict what emojis you will want to type. Even better, it will take your type and turn it into hieroglyphic emoji.
“Sometimes you type a whole message and you get to the end and you realize you’re totally lacking in emojification,” Federighi said.
You won’t lack emojification for much longer, though. On the new iMessage, you will be able to hit the emoji key and all of the words that can be turned to emojis will be highlighted in yellow and you can “tap, tap, tap, emojify!
3. Real life invisible ink
Sometimes you want to send someone a text message, but want to make that person work to see what you sent. Invisible ink lets you do just that, and while it’s cool for a text, it also works for pictures. Sometimes you just want to send a picture that isn’t meant to be opened in public, you know?
All a person has to do is slide their finger across the text or image and the invisible ink gets lifted away.
2. Rich links
You could always send links through text message. Those links were just that though — links. No one knew what was behind the link unless that person clicked through. It was functional, but ugly. With the update, iMessage will have rich links, which means artwork from the website and titles will be shown as well.
Best of all, rich links makes iMessage a place to watch video. Links to videos can be played without even leaving the app.
1. Handwritten messages
What’s old is new again. A digital touch feature lets people send handwritten messages, as well as short videos of you drawing. It does it all in full screen as well.
Many of the features that Apple showed off today are already available on other chat applications. Tapback (basically the reaction feature in Slack), or the adjusting the text size (exactly like shout in Google’s future Allo messenger) are both new to Apple, but not new to messaging. Yet Apple is opening up iMessage to developers, so if you can dream it, it can probably be done. All of the developer apps will be available right in iMessages through an “App Drawer” that allows you to interact with both people and apps at the same time.
That means developers could add practical features of their own that the Apple team didn’t bother to do. Timed texts would be nice. Remembering that you were supposed to text someone should already be a thing of the past.
Yet practical isn’t always the best. A developer could (and probably should) make an iMessage feature to match the new Breathe feature on the Apple Watch. A simple reminder to breathe every time a text (or emoji) conversation gets too heated could stop a fight or two.
Whatever comes next, you can bet that simple text-based conversations will be a thing of the past.