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How to use iMessage special effects

Over the years the iPhone’s Messages app has evolved from a relatively simple messaging program to a sophisticated tool complete with special effects. 

A lot of this is due to iMessage, Apple’s proprietary messaging platform (a term many iPhone users erroneously apply to the Messages app itself). We’re taking a look at how you can use the special effects in Messages, which go way beyond simple SMS and MMS communication. Since the release of iOS 10, iPhone users have been able to spice up their texting with handwritten doodles, shooting star animations and a lot more.

Here’s your essential guide to raising your iMessage game:

Send handwritten notes or doodles 

You can send handwritten notes or hand-drawn doodles in Messages. This fun feature can be found in the Messages app by turning your iPhone into landscape mode. When the keyboard comes up, look for the squiggle icon at the bottom right of the screen. 

Tapping this icon will give you a blank canvas to write or draw on. Alternatively, you can also use one of the iPhone’s preloaded “handwritten” notes towards the bottom of the screen. 

When you send your creation, it will play as an animation to the recipient.

Digital Touch 

Something that also came to Messages in iOS 10 is the Apple Watch’s “Digital Touch” — the ability to send sketches, your heartbeat or fun animations like kisses and fireballs. 

To send someone a Digital Touch message, when in a conversation look for the heart with two fingers icon next to the text box. If you only see an arrow, tap this first to bring up the other options. 

Tap the heart icon and now, you have six options to send as follows. 

Sketch – tap the blue dot, select the color you require, then use one finger to draw something.

Tap – tap the blue dot, select the color, then tap the screen.

Heartbeat – touch and hold the screen with two fingers.

Fireball – touch and hold the screen with one finger. 

Kiss – tap the screen using two fingers. 

Broken heart – touch and hold the screen with two fingers, then swipe down. 

Message effects 

In order to make your messages more “expressive,” you can add some special message effects. 

Once you’ve typed your message, press and hold the arrow to the right of the text box. The “bubble effects” options will then load. 

Here, you can “slam” a message onto someone’s screen, make it “loud” where the text initially shows larger or make it “gentle,” where the text initially shows smaller. 

You can also send an “invisible ink” message where the image or text is obscured until the recipient touches their screen. 

Full-screen effects 

You can also send a selection of “full-screen” effects which see iMessage backgrounds animated. To send such a message, type your text then press and hold the arrow to the right of the text box. 

You now need to tap on “Screen” at the top of your iPhone’s display to see further options. 

Swipe your screen to scroll through the effects available. These include…

…ballons. 

Confetti. 

Frickin’ lasers. 

Fireworks. 

And shooting stars. 

Turning it all off 

In your iPhone Settings, there’s an option for turning the auto-play of the effects on and off. Just go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Reduce Motion. Toggle it on, and a second toggle will appear, one that will still let you see all the iMessage effects. Turn that one off, and you’re back to normal texting (more or less).

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