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Shake, jitter, bold: How iOS 18 makes iPhone messages more expressive

Shake, jitter, bold: How iOS 18 makes iPhone messages more expressive


In person, I'm known for communicating with intense body language, but I never do that when texting friends. Apple's new text formatting and animations in the recently released Messages app in iOS 18 update mean that anyone can express themselves with a little more energy (and less arm flailing) on ​​their iPhone or iPad.

During its WWDC 2024 keynote on Monday, Apple focused on the personal aspects of using its products, from using Apple Intelligence to bring together information to incorporate handwriting when composing text with Apple Pencil. What could be more personal than sending a message to a friend or family member? Here's how the new messaging features on iPhone and iPad will work, based on what Apple has revealed so far.

If you're a registered developer, you can install the iOS 18 beta right now, but because this is the first pre-release version of the software that isn't expected to be finalized until September or October, you should think carefully before installing it on your main iPhone.

Tap back with colors and emojis on your iPhone and iPad

Sometimes a simple thumbs up is all you need to respond to someone's text. iOS 18 is turning the flat, monochrome “tapbacks” that can appear on the edge of your messages into shaded, full-color expressions. You're also no longer limited to the usual six reaction icons. You'll now be able to choose from a full range of emojis or even stickers you create yourself as your tapback icon.

This is an example of what Apple calls a “tap back,” aka emoji.

Apple/Screenshot: CNET Tell it in bold (or italics, or… you get the idea)

To emphasize a word or phrase, you can format it as bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, etc. Clicking the new button to the right of the suggestion bar appears to open a panel with these options. I'll know for sure once I have a chance to try it out, but that's what I've inferred from what Apple shared in the presentation.

The ability to underline, bold, and strikethrough words is a new feature in Apple Messages.

Apple/Screenshot: CNET Messages app makes conversations more engaging

If the traditional format is still too plain for you, you can also get serious with animations: in the same panel, Messages includes eight animations that you can apply to the selected text, such as making the text grow or shrink in size, vibrating, jittering, exploding, and more.

Jittering and exploding text are two new features meant to add some oomph to your messages in iOS 18. You can also whisper or shout in a small text or in a large font.

Apple/Screenshot: CNET

These are just some of the features Apple announced for iOS 18 at WWDC. Don't miss the long-awaited addition of a Calculator app to iPadOS, new features for WatchOS 11, and the direction of Vision OS 2. RCS is also coming to Messages, but little was announced today.




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