Covering the keynote this morning/afternoon, I was excited to see what was to come. Personally, I wasn’t particularly interested in watchOS as I have yet to have a real desire to use a smartwatch at all. tvOS also wasn't exactly on my radar due to the fact that I already use an Amazon Fire TV. However, the tvOS updates ended up piquing my interest after all when they announced that Dark Mode was coming for tvOS. Surely this meant that they’ll be bringing Dark Mode to iOS.
Turns out that didn’t happen, which surprised me a bit. No biggie (well, kind of a biggie - Dark Mode has been long overdue for an iOS debut). But the real reason I was there was to pay attention to the iOS 10 announcement – and even though I previously said to take the rampant rumors of iMessage for Android with a pound (two pounds, even) of salt, a small part of me just couldn’t help but hope that iMessage for Android was going to become a reality anyway.
Again, it turns out that wasn’t the case. I’m not too bummed about it, but I would be lying if I said that all of the updates coming to iMessage weren’t appealing to me, making me just a little bit more sad that, as a born-again Android user, I won’t be able to use them.
Essentially, what I took away from the messages update is that they took all of the best parts of other messaging apps – including unreleased ones, such as Google’s Allo – and added them into iMessage. In addition, they added some twists of their own. Not only have they incorporated stickers, like Facebook’s Messenger app has, and the ability to make text big and little and link previews, like in Allo, but they’ve added features like Digital Touch, Invisible Ink, and chat bubble effects. Emojis are now three times bigger so you can see them better, and the new Messages app will highlight words that are “emojifiable” to quickly replace words with emojis, for your friends attending The Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too.
Digital Touch videos look to enhance videos quickly before sending them off to your friends, and Invisible Ink allows you to send secrets texts and photos to your friends (who have to touch the image to see what it is – I could see this going dangerous places). Chat bubble effects act as a sort of “Like” button for messages, and if you want to make a bigger statement there are full screen effects, which uses the entire background of the chat thread for an animated image. Examples used in the keynote were fireworks or a laser light show.
You can now hand write notes if you so please, allowing you to give a personalized touch to your texts. This will only really be useful to people with good handwriting, and not for people like me whose handwriting has deteriorated to illegible chicken scratch over time thanks to the extensive use of keyboards.
Overall, the changes to Messages look exciting. I’m curious to see how iOS users will respond to this when it’s officially released, as one of the reasons people seem to like iMessage so much is due to its simplicity. The simplicity of not having to switch between iMessage and SMS remains, but these new updates certainly seem complex when compared to what iMessage looks like today. If I had to guess, though, these new features will go over quite well.
And although I’m a little bummed it’s not coming to Android, at least probably not anytime soon, at least, it makes sense. While I can see a lot of people being turned off from the new updates, I can see a lot more people being drawn in by them – and thus creating potential new demand for iPhones.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the changes to iOS Messages? Are you impressed, or are you dreading the extensive changes?