How To: 8 Great New Messages Features in iOS 11 for iPhone

8 Great New Messages Features in iOS 11 for iPhone

Apple gave the Messages app a massive makeover with iOS 10, with a slew of options that made iMessages on the iPhone a lot more fun. While not quite as comprehensive, iOS 11 builds upon that success and makes the app more user-friendly and all-inclusive.

iOS 11 brings plenty of great features to the table that will push Messages even closer to becoming the Swiss Army knife of messaging apps and give you significantly more incentives to depend on it for all your daily digital needs. Out of all the new Messages enhancements in iOS 11, here are our favorites.

1. There Are Brand New iMessage Screen Effects

Though no new custom bubble effects were introduced for iMessage on iOS 11, two new additions for its screen effects have become available. For those not familiar with iMessage screen effects, they're fun, animated backgrounds that add a touch of flair to your texts.

First up, there's the new "Echo" option, which bombards the receiver with multiple message bubbles containing your message. It's the perfect screen effect option to use for those times where you have to send a text over to an absentminded friend that you've always had to repeat yourself over and over to.

If you want to send an extremely important text that can't be ignored, then "Spotlight" is right up your alley. This second screen effect addition highlights your message by putting it under a spotlight, and it's a great way to communicate a sense of urgency to your iMessage that's sure to grab the reader's attention.

2. The iMessage App Drawer Is More Intuitive

When iOS 10 came out, it gave the Messages app a built-in App Store for iMessages, giving us the unprecedented ability to access content to greatly enhance our messaging experience. But it was kind of clunky to visit the App Store or view already downloaded iMessage apps.

In iOS 11, the redesigned app drawer helps make things more fluid and gives it a more integrated look and feel. When you hit the "A" icon now, there's a huge prompt to check out the App Store for iMessage. Previously, that area would show your recent iMessage apps.

Recent apps have now moved to the bottom toolbar, so it's easier to see everything you have in a simple swipe. And the App Store is front and center here, too. When you slide over the app drawer toolbar, it will expand so you can read the name of the apps, in case you can't remember what the icon meant.

The new system is much more intuitive, and closing out of the App Store for iMessage is even easier, where you just swipe down instead of tapping on buttons.

3. You Can Send Apple Pay Cash to Friends

iOS 11 is about to make online transactions a whole lot more convenient by integrating Apple Pay with Messages. This new union will let you send and receive "Apple Pay Cash" to and from your contacts using a built-in iMessage app that works much like Square Cash and Venmo. The funds received are deposited onto a Cash card in your Wallet app, which can then be used anywhere Apple Pay is accepted. It can even be transferred over to your bank account.

With this new feature, you can now notify someone and send money, which is all done within Messages. Compared to the present method of giving a friend a heads up with Messages, then sending him funds using a dedicated app like Venmo, the benefits of an Apple Pay supported Messages is obvious.

Images via Apple

4. You Can Chat with Businesses

The last day of WWDC 2017 marked Apple's introduction of a new platform aimed at bringing individuals and businesses closer together in iOS 11. As an extension of iMessage, Business Chat gives businesses the ability to interact with customers in an unprecedented degree of intimacy.

Business Chat aims to provide a more seamless means of communication between businesses and individual customers, and it's capable of handling any type of service, from answering customer questions to making transactions and shipment tracking. Eventually, you'll even be able to open up a Business Chat from a link in Maps, Siri, Search, and other places.

Image via Apple

Though still in development and far from a finished feature, it's easy to see the potential for Business Chat to fundamentally change how businesses and its customers communicate with one another.

5. Messages Can Be Synced on iCloud

With iOS 11, full Messages synchronization has now been implemented to work across all Apple devices you sign into. Deleting a sketchy message on your iPhone, for example, will also automatically delete it from Messages on your iPad or Mac, unlike before. This feature has the added bonus of consuming less of your iPhone's storage space, as it also archives all your data in the cloud and only keeps recent Messages on your devices.

With significantly less memory usage, a more streamlined Messages will result in faster backup times and provide better overall performance. Unfortunately, this new setting is still buggy and so far unreliable at the time of testing. As iOS 11 gets further refined, we'll keep you updated on improvements as they become available.

6. You Can Use 3D Touch to Share Links

Taking URL sharing a step further, iOS 11 lets those of us with 3D Touch-equipped iPhones to share URLs by in messages, and it's super easy. Just 3D Touch on the link in the message, then slide your finger up the screen to show the menu, just like before, except this time you'll get an option to "Share" which brings up the share sheet.

No share option in iOS 10 (left) and iOS 11's new share option (right).

7. It's Easier to Silence Message Threads

iOS 11 renamed the "Do Not Disturb" option for conversation threads to "Hide Alerts," and the toggle is still accessible by hitting the information icon in the top right. But that's too many steps for some of us, so Apple added a shortcut to the swipe menu on the Messages homepage which quickly disables notifications for both individual and group chats whenever they get out of control. Just swipe left on any message thread to access the new "Hide Alert" shortcut.

The latter method is especially handy, as it can disable notifications from outside the conversation itself and prevents the "Read" receipt from being triggered, giving us plausible deniability with regards to reading any messages.

8. You Can Even Invite Family to iMessage

iOS 11 now gives fragmented iPhone and iPad users an easier way to come together in Messages through its new "Invite Family" feature. As intuitive as iOS is, we all know of someone, usually an older parent of grandparent, that's still a little behind with regards to iMessage and all the functionality it brings to the table.

Unfortunately, Apple has yet to provide specific details on this feature. That said, we'll be sure to post an update as we learn more about Invite Family and what it has to offer. With iOS 11 development progressing at light speed, specifics will come soon enough indeed.

What other features do you wish for Apple to add on or improve upon its Messages platform as iOS 11 continues to be developed? As always, feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment in the section below.

Cover image and screenshots by Amboy Manalo/Gadget Hacks

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