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How to access all the crazy new features in Messages on the iPhone

Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
There’s a lot going on behind that little green icon.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Earlier this month, Apple released the latest update to its mobile operating system, iOS 10. There are a few new features, such as a new lock screen, an updated Photos app, and a revamped Apple Music and News, but the biggest update is to Messages. Gone is the simple interface for sending texts and images to friends and family, and in its place a madhouse of stickers, animations, handwritten notes, and other over-the-top features.

But how do you access all these new ways to annoy your contacts? It’s not immediately obvious. So we have compiled a quick run-down of all the new features in Messages. Check it out below:

Message effects

Effects add a small amount of levity to the average text message.

To add animations to individual text messages, start typing a message, and then press hard on the send button to bring up the message effects menu. You can also use this menu to make a message “invisible,” meaning the recipient will have to rub their finger over the message to reveal what’s behind it, which is great if you have something sensitive you want to send and don’t want anyone else to see.


This could get old very quickly.

Similar to the effects, you can add crazy backgrounds to messages through the send message menu. There’s confetti, balloons, lasers, fireworks, and a shooting star effect to jazz up your messages, and make them a bit harder to read.


The sticker store built into Messages.

There’s now the ability to add stickers into messages, which can be accessed by pressing the arrow next to the compose message line, and then pressing the App Store symbol. You’ll find that every app on your phone that has created stickers will have them available in your sticker tray, whether that’s adding a picture of the sun from AccuWeather, or movie posters from the Fandango app.

It’s not entirely clear why one would would want a sticker of this.

You can also add new sticker collections from the App Store, including this one from iMoji, that lets you turn photos of friends into emoji:



Rather like reactions on Facebook, you can add reactions to messages and stickers that your friends send you. To bring up this menu, tap twice on the thing you want to react to.

Handwritten notes

Handwritten notes sort of look like drawing on the iPad Pro.

You can also send messages that look like handwritten notes in Messages, just by turning your phone sideways. It should bring up this screen, with a list of example handwritten messages to send to friends, and the ability to create personal messages with your own chicken scratchings.

Digital touch messages

Digital touch messages.

Rather like the messages that Apple Watch owners have been able to send each other since its release, digital touch messages are a combination of little scribbles that unfold to the recipient as they’re drawn, and other small designs, like hearts, kisses and  fireballs. To access this function, tap the heart with two fingers icon next to the message bar. Here’s a list of all the different types of touch messages you can send:

Digital Touch messages.

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