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iOS 10 gives apps room to grow

Michael deAgonia | Aug. 25, 2016
Apple’s mobile OS turns oft-used apps into mini-platforms

messages emoji Apple

One of Messages' new features translates words into emoji.

For added emotion, messages can be sent with Bubble and Screen effects; the former applies animation and behavior to texts such as Slam (which lands a message with an impact animation); Loud (which enlarges text momentarily); Gentle (which sends a message using small text, denoting a whisper); and Invisible Ink. The last behvior keeps a message or attachment secret until you wipe away the effect with your finger; it's pretty neat for building additional suspense in texts.

Full screen effects are also available to apply balloons, confetti, lasers, fireworks, or shooting stars to the background of your messages, again, adding an explicit layer of nuance to a medium in which tone must often be implied.

message balloon

Messages offers a variety of new effects.

Messages also inherits some of the functionality found in the Apple Watch, including the ability to send a heart beat as well as sketches and doodles using Digital Touch. Digital Touch in Messages also lets you send taps, fireballs, kisses and heartbreak animations using gestures and taps. It's another way to express emotions in a medium that is generally limited to text and emojis.

As if that weren't enough -- and this hews to the point I made earlier about apps becoming full-featured platforms -- Messages also takes strides to ensure that soon you won't have to leave the app to get things done.

Like any good platform, you can extend the functionality of Messages by adding third-party extensions. These include simple items like sticker sets or more complex ones like the ability to look up restaurants and book tables, order rides from services such as Uber, or share music -- all without having to jump to another app.

Best of all, this kind of added functionality will only increase as more third party developers get in on the action.


Like Messages, Maps is now host to a variety of smarter features. To start, the Maps interface features larger text, less cluttered elements, and it lets you see more data at a glance during navigation. This includes compass and weather data, as well as visual indicators of traffic flow and congestion while in Directions mode.

In previous versions of iOS, overviews in Maps would display traffic conditions -- orange for congestion, red for heavy traffic -- but in GPS/guided mode, streets would lose the color-coding, and the inability to pan and zoom meant you couldn't easily look ahead. Both of those limitations are fixed in iOS 10: the turn-by-turn navigation screen now displays traffic data and the interface allows for panning, zooming, and tilting the camera view.


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