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Get to know iOS 8: Messages gets new ways to communicate

Susie Ochs | Sept. 18, 2014
Messages is arguably the most useful communications tool on your iPhone. What started as a way to make SMS text conversations easier to follow has blossomed into a full-fledged communication powerhouse. And in iOS 8, Messages is better than it's ever been. Ironically, one of its best new tricks is the equivalent of leaving an old-fashioned voicemail--only now that's way more useful because it lives alongside the texts, photos, videos, and shared locations you keep in Messages already. Let's walk through what's new and cool in Apple's chat app.

But there's a quicker way to send photos and videos that is new. Instead of tapping that camera button once, tap and hold it down. That quickly launches the camera, and you can slide your finger up to take a photo or to the right to start a video. It only shortens the process by a tap or two, but when you're trying to capture the moment, having such shortcuts right in the Messages app is nice.

Get the details

If you click the Details link at the top-right of a Messages conversation, you'll find some other new tricks. You can send your location, as a pin on a map, or even share your location, which updates the map everytime the recipient looks at it.

The clever Do Not Disturb feature built into Messages is great if you're in a chatty group conversation and you don't want your phone to blow up every time anyone in the group responds with a "Me too!" or a "LOL." The messages will just pile up until you get a chance to look at them; you can always flip the Do Not Disturb switch off if you want to start being notified of new messages in that conversation thread.

You can also delete people from a group conversation individually — a feature I'm sure won't be misused by any mean middle-school students. When it all gets to be too heavy, a handy Leave Conversation option at the bottom lets you back away slowly and not be bothered again — until the next group convo, that is.

The Details screen also shows all the attached photos, videos, maps, and audio recordings you and another person (or group) have ever sent to each other. If you have message threads going back years with people, it's a fun way to quickly see all the photos you've ever shared.


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