Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Software Engineering at Apple Inc., speaks during the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 13, 2016.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Lisa Eadicicco
June 14, 2016

When Apple’s next iPhone update launches this fall, iMessage will become more than just a means of sending simple messages and emojis. The company is building a handful of new capabilities into its messaging software that allow iPhone and iPad owners to communicate in different ways.

Here’s a look at all the new features coming to iMessage in iOS 10.


Use Apps Without Leaving a Conversation

With iOS 10, Apple is letting third-party developers plug into iMessage. This means you’ll be able to do things like order food, buy movie tickets, or send money to a friend without leaving the Messages app. It’s similar to the way third party apps work in Facebook Messenger.


Write and Draw With Your Finger

Apple’s update will also bring the ability to hand-write a note in a messaging thread or draw a sketch using the same Digital Touch feature found on the Apple Watch. You’ll also be able to scribble text over images and videos.


Tap to Replace Words With Emoji

iOS 10 will eliminate the need to scroll or search through your keyboard’s emoji library. The new iMessage will make it so that you can tap a word to replace it with the corresponding emoji. The keyboard will also suggest emojis as you type, similar to the way Google’s Gboard keyboard for iPhone already does. Emojis will appear three times larger within messaging threads as well.


Hide Sensitive Texts and Photos

iMessage users will be able to send messages that are scrambled until the recipient touches them through a new feature Apple calls Invisible Ink. The capability works with text or images, and the user can unscramble the content by swiping his or her finger across the message.


Respond to a Message Without Typing

For those times when you just want to quickly confirm that you’ve seen a message, or give a quick yes or no answer, Apple has added Tapback. This feature lets you tap a message and send an icon like a heart, a thumbs up or thumbs down, or a question mark among other symbols.


Add Effects to Message Bubbles

Apple

Apple wants iMessage users to customize more than just the text and emojis they send each day. With the new iMessage, Apple device owners will be able to add effects to individual chat bubbles. You could, for instance, make a bubble appear larger for emphasis, similar to the Whisper Shout feature in Google’s messaging app Allo.


Launch the Camera Inside Messages

If you want to snap a photo and send it via iMessage, you’ll soon be able to do so from within the Messages app. Tapping the camera icon in Messages will launch the camera viewfinder, so you can take a photo and send it quickly. The camera roll in Messages is also getting a redesign that makes it look more like the iPhone’s Photos app.


Change the Background to a Special Effect

If you’re tired of the plain white backdrop behind your messaging thread, Apple plans to change this in iOS 10. Users will have the option to add special effects to the background when certain messages are sent. A message that says “Happy New Year,” for example, might change the background to exploding fireworks.


Play and Share Songs From Apple Music

In the new Messages app, you’ll be able to share a specific song with a friend through iMessage and listen to it without leaving the messaging thread.


Send Better Looking Links

Apple is changing the way links look when sent via iMessage. The title of the website and artwork from it will now appear in messaging threads, making it easier to see what’s being shared. Video clips will also play automatically when being shared in iMessage.

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