Fun with iMessage in iOS 11

2 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #250

Have you noticed that the iOS Messages app and the iMessage service have gained a bunch of gaudy new features in the past couple of years? I’m talking about tapbacks, full-screen and bubble effects, handwriting, Digital Touch, and so on. If you’re not familiar with these still relatively new ways of expressing yourself, please allow me to introduce you.

You iMessage; I Tapback

Tapbacks are probably my favorite new Messages feature, letting me quickly respond without typing or dictating. To use ‘em, double-tap a message and then tap one of the six Tapback icons—heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, haha (laugh), double exclamation mark, or question mark—to send it instantly. If you’ve never tried Tapbacks, you’re in for a treat.

Double-tap a message bubble to respond with a Tapback.

Double-tap a message bubble on your iPhone to respond with a tapback.

By the way, tapbacks are also available in the Messages app on your Mac. Just right-click (or Control-click) the message and choose Tapback, then click an icon. That’s the good news.

Right or Control-click a message bubble to respond with a tapback on your Mac.

Right or Control-click a message bubble on your Mac to respond with a tapback.

The bad news is that the Messages app on the Mac lacks any of the whizzy new features that follow.

Digitally Touching

Digital Touch was cool when it was introduced on the Apple Watch a couple of years ago. It lets you send “feelings” without typing or talking.

To try it, tap the little A (for “apps”) icon on the left of the text field, and then tap the little heart. Now, tap with one finger to create a color burst; press with one finger to create a flaming fireball; tap with two fingers to make a lipstick-print; or touch and hold with two fingers to create an animated heartbeat (my favorite).

Send your feelings with Digital Touch.

Send your feelings with Digital Touch.

Or, just draw a picture with one finger in your choice of 7 colors.

Hand (Finger) Write Your iMessages

Handwriting’s another cool and relatively new feature that also appeared first on the Apple Watch. I sometimes prefer handwriting (fingerwriting?) my replies to iMessages. To do it, my iDevice needs to be in landscape mode (long edge parallel to the ground). When it is, a new key that looks like the letter “e” in cursive and upside down, appears on the virtual keyboard. Tap it and you can write on the screen with your finger. When you run out of space, tap the > icon to enlarge the canvas. Or, choose one of the pre-made responses at the bottom of the screen.

Hand (finger) write your next iMessage!

Hand (finger) write your next iMessage!

Add Pizzaz with Bubble & Full-Screen Effects

Finally, to add a little pizazz to your messages, you can send them with bubble or full-screen effects by pressing and holding the little blue “send message” arrow-in-a-circle instead of tapping it. That will display the Bubble Effects screen. Tap an effect—slam, loud, gentle, or invisible ink—to preview it; tap the blue arrow-in-a-circle to send it.

 

This is the invisible ink bubble effect; the recipient has to "scratch" off the effect to see your message.

This is the invisible ink bubble effect; the recipient has to “scratch” off the effect to see your message.

Or, tap the Screen tab to see Screen Effects. Swipe right-to-left to preview effects—echo, spotlight, balloons, confetti, love, lasers, fireworks, shooting star, or celebration; tap the blue arrow-in-a-circle to send your message with that effect.

The fireworks screen effect delivers your message with (what else?)... fireworks!

The fireworks screen effect delivers your message with (what else?)… fireworks!

10 Comments Add a comment

  1. Lee Dronick

    The bad news is that the Messages app on the Mac lacks any of the whizzy new features that follow.

    They still haven’t fixed the design flaw where pressing Return sends the message instead of adding a new line. Yeah, I know about using Command-Return to add a new line, do the Messages’ programmers know how to code a Send button?

  2. Robert LeVitus

    Lee,

    That “design flaw,” where pressing return sends the message instead of moving the cursor to a new line, has become so pervasive in forms on websites that pressing Option-Return (or Command-Return) has become the new Return for me in Messages and web forms.

    If you can’t beat ’em… at least get used to ’em?

    By the way, I hope you noticed that our Submit Comment button is properly coded so typing a Return does what you expect. 🙂

    • Lee Dronick

      I am not going to join them, not willingly, I am going to complain until user design challenged geeks get a clue about the value of white space.

  3. wab95

    Bob:

    One of the benefits of having kids (not the only one to be sure) is that they like using effects with iMessage; my daughter frequently. So I’ve grown accustomed to using them in response.

    I’m not sure what machine you’re using, but last week I purchased a Touch Bar MBP (15″). I hadn’t planned to do so, but had to hand over my MBP Retina to my son for school once his 2011 17″ MBP died of acute motherboard failure.

    On the Touch Bar MBP, if you select a message to which you want to respond in iMessage, the Touch Bar will display the Tap Back icons and all you to do is select and it’s done. Just be aware that the effect is immediate.

  4. BruceL

    Thank you Bob. Do you know of a way to access one’s Stickers on iMessages on Mac OS? I have been unsuccessful finding a way to do this.

  5. Robert LeVitus

    BruceL: I do not think you can (yet). I kinda expect to see it in macOS 10.14 (or 10.15), though, ’cause that seems to be a pattern…

  6. Robert LeVitus

    As far as I know, the answer is that it can’t be done, at least not at this time. But, don’t blame me… blame Apple. :-p

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