iMessage was first introduced back at iOS 5 in 2011 as a neat feature, allowing iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users to quickly send and receive messages over the internet, in tandem with SMS messages operating in the same app.
10 major iOS updates on, iMessage continues to be a great Apple-exclusive feature, now with a handful of cool and creative features that a simple text message can’t contain. Here are five of the features we reckon you should know if you want to be an iMessage wiz.
Just a quick heads-up, you can only do the things we’re talking about in this article on an iOS device – sorry Android users, your green bubbles won’t cut it.
One of the cooler iMessage features is Message Effects, cool little bits of personality that you can add to your iMessage bubbles. You can make your message slam against the screen of the receiver, appear with invisible ink that the reader must tap to reveal, or even send emojis that flood the screen as soon as the reader opens the iMessage chat. There’s also a whole lot of other screen effects, like the lasers shown below.
Memoji in messages
Everybody loves Memoji, Apple’s personalised emoji line that lets you build your own metaverse-like avatar to send in messages. You can send a recorded, face-tracked message with Memoji by tapping the Memoji tab at the top of your Apple keyboard or at the bottom of your screen when using iMessage.
The Memoji face surrounded by a yellow frame is for facial tracking, allowing you to record a message with your personalised character (or record a facial tracked reaction using an existing emoji!), alternatively, you can choose from a range of pre-made reaction faces in the “Stickers” tab. If nominated by the iMessage user, you can even have your contact’s images set as their Memoji.
Some apps on iOS have special integration for iMessage, allowing you to do certain things, send special messages or have access to app-exclusive sticker packs.
For example, Aussie-made Crossy Road has a fine selection of GIFs available for sending in the iMessage App. The Twitch app lets you send emotes from the channels you’re subscribed to, whereas Google Maps lets you share your real-life location.
There’s even a special iMessage App Store, where you can download add-ons and sticker packs for the messaging service.
Back up (or don’t back it up) on iCloud
If you’re interested in saving all of your messages for safekeeping or for when you need to search for something, you can have your messages saved in iCloud. Just go into your iCloud settings to enable this, or check that it’s already enabled.
Alternatively, if you want to save your iCloud space for other things like pictures, videos, backups and apps, you can also disable iCloud message syncing through iCloud settings. Personally, I don’t back up my messages in iCloud, as it takes up a lot of space and I only use 5GB of storage.
Disable read receipts
This one’s a cheeky hack that I didn’t even know about until I started exploring iMessage features – did you know that you can disable read receipts?
You can do this individually, by accessing the contact information section of the person you want to message. Just tap on their icon bubble at the top of the screen and then disable sending read receipts with a switch.
You can also do this through Settings. Settings > Messages > Send Read Receipts (toggle this off).
Instead of giving the recipient a read receipt, they’ll receive “Delivered”.