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Master Apple’s iMessage with this guide

by Brandon Russell | March 10, 2018March 10, 2018 1:00 pm PST

Since its arrival in 2011, iMessage has grown into one of Apple’s most important (and beloved) services. Not only does it beautifully consolidate your SMS and MMS messages, but it allows iOS users to send and receive messages from any Apple device, including iPad and iPhone. And with iOS 11.3, this experience is going to get even better.

You’ve probably heard this before: I can’t ditch my iPhone because of iMessage. Despite the availability of WhatsApp, Allo, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and others, Apple’s service remains crucial to the iOS experience, likely keeping millions of users from jumping ship to Android, a platform that has a messy relationship with messaging.

If you’re a longtime iPhone user, using iMessage has probably become like second nature. But the service is surprisingly complex—perhaps unnecessarily so. Which is why we’re here to help you learn to use the service like a pro.

Pay your friends

Thanks to Apple Pay Cash, Apple makes it simple to send (and receive) cash to friends and family. Once your Apple Wallet is setup, jump into an iMessage and hit the Apple Pay Cash icon. Input the amount you want to pay or request and then confirm it using either Touch ID or FaceID. Apple’s service works similarly to stalwarts like Venmo, Square Cash, and PayPal, except Apple Pay Cash is on all devices running iOS 11 and up.

Share your location

Sharing your location doesn’t have to be creepy! In fact, it’s actually quite useful when you’re out traveling. It’s much easier than going back and forth over text or trying to talk over a spotty call.

When you share your location, you have two options: Send My Current Location and Share My Location. The former will provide a map of where you are at that moment. If you decide to share your location, you can specify for how long period of time, like an hour or even indefinitely.

To start sharing your location with someone, jump into a message and hit the details button in the top right-hand corner.

The effects are great

You can add a bit of flair to your messages by using one of iMessage’s many effects, which can transform both the blue bubbles and the screen. When you type a message into text area, press and hold on the send button and a menu will pop up. What you do after that is up to you. The Invisible Ink option is particularly neat.

The effects are entertaining if you want to further get your point across. The bubble effects are cool for everyday conversations, while the screen effects are nice when a special occasion arises, like a birthday or anniversary. You can also use Apple’s Digital Touch feature to draw a picture.

Don’t forget about Animoji

If you own an iPhone X, then you already know the joys of Animoji, Apple’s popular animated emoji feature. Animoji utilizes the iPhone X’s TrueDepth camera to track the facial features of a user, creating a surprisingly effective animated emoji, from a cat to a skeleton. The whole craze took on a life of its own shortly after the iPhone X launched, spawning a number of entertaining clips showing off Animoji karaoke.

Quickly react without typing a word

When you don’t have time to type “Haha” or respond with an Animoji, you can use iMessage’s convenient “tapback” feature. To do this, double-tap on a message bubble and a row of responses will show up. Pick the one you want and it’ll attach itself to the message you chose to react to.

Explore the world of iMessage apps

Whether you want to send GIFs, stickers, or even play a game, iMessage apps open up a world of possibilities of what you can do with Apple’s service. The ones I find most useful are the iMessage apps for Spotify, Apple Pay Cash, and Giphy, but there are so many others available.

Messages in the cloud

While this feature isn’t available yet—it’s coming in iOS 11.3—it’s one you should use once it goes live. By syncing your messages in the cloud, you’ll get a much better messaging experience. Now, once you delete a message from your iPhone, it’ll also be deleted from the cloud. Previously, messages wouldn’t sync as seamlessly.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.

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