In iOS 12, Apple included new, Snapchat-like effects and stickers for photos and videos in Messages. While these new options are fun, they're missing something that takes away from the appeal, especially since Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and similar apps already let you do it.
So what's this magical quality that Apple's new camera effects, filters, text effects, shapes, and sticker packs are missing in the iPhone's updated Messages app? You can't add any of these to photos or videos already in your library.
After tapping on the camera icon in a Message thread, you'll jump into the camera interface, and you'll see an effects button in the bottom left of the display. After tapping that, you can add filters, text, emojis, stickers, shapes, etc. to your media. This works before you actually take a picture or video, as well as after you've already taken one (though not all effects work in videos after it's already been shot).
You'll also notice that, in this interface, there is no button to access your Photos albums. That's because this ability was moved to the new Photos iMessage app. When you use the Photos icon in the iMessage app drawer to add pictures or videos in a Messages conversation, there is not effects button available.
You see, Messages only allows you to add effects to photos and videos you take with the Messages camera. For pics you import into a thread, you can access the regular "Markup" and "Edit" tools for media. These let you draw, crop, add photo filters, adjust colors, and more, but none of the cool new static or augmented reality effects are available. For videos, all you can do is trim them.
The only way to add these new effects and filters is to take the picture or video in the Messages app. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook all let you add the same effects to both photos and videos that you've taken in the app right then and there and ones imported from your Photos library.
It doesn't make a lot of sense why Apple would save these effects only for photos taken in Messages. Users send plenty of photos from their libraries, so it would make sense to offer these effects for those snapshots and vids as well. Hopefully, this is an area Apple addresses in later iOS 12.x updates.
And while I know I said "one" thing in the headline of this article, there's one more iOS 12 gripe with this process: Photos and videos you take in Messages save to your camera roll even if you decide not to send them. After taking a pic or vid in Messages, when you're "Done" editing it, it just loads a thumbnail preview in the new message box, where you can tap the little "x" to change your mind.
If we didn't want to send the photo, Apple, we probably don't want it saved, either.