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Messages app getting RCS support, message scheduling, satellite communication, more in iOS 18

2024 June 11
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Communicating with other people via the iPhone and iPad’s native Messages app is about to change for the better with the onset of iOS & iPadOS 18.

While text messaging has been a popular pastime for many for several decades now, it has only continued to become more prevalent as messaging apps integrate more advanced text messaging features. For example, Apple’s iMessage platform offers unique features that traditional SMS messages do not, and it’s very successful because of that.

But starting with iOS & iPadOS 18, the Messages app experience is going to be a lot more immersive, and it will also be better for your Android-donning friends who refuse to get an iPhone (you’ll see why in this piece).

Text Effects

Text effects in the iOS 18 Messages app.

When texting with iMessage in iOS & iPadOS 18, you will have access to an arsenal of new features that help get your point across with words.

One thing that users will find helpful right off the bat is that you can now format text with basic bold, italics, underline, and strikethrough capabilities, which can help add emphasis to certain words or improve your ability to convey things like sarcasm through non-verbal means.

More than that, iOS & iPadOS 18 are going to make it easier to apply animated effects to certain messages. The app will occasionally suggest certain animations for a subset of words and phrases as you type, and you can also apply these manually if you’d like.

Whether you’re trying to bring Emojis to life or just add more feeling to your lifeless text, these animations can make text messaging more fun, and are sure to keep users texting each other longer than ever before.

More Tapback Options

iOS 18 Messages app improvements to Tapback.

Tapback is a feature that iMessage users have been taking advantage of to respond to incoming iMessages for a while now, but the options have been quite limited, such as using a heart, a thumbs-up, a thumbs-down, a HAHA, two exclamation points, or a question mark. In some cases, these don’t really get your reaction across.

In iOS & iPadOS 18, iMessages’ Tapback options will be greatly expanded to include not only the above options, but also essentially any Emoji or Sticker that you have on your device. This includes live stickers packs that you’ve downloaded from the App Store, or that you’ve made from Photos on your own device, the latter of which are truly unique to you and no one else has.

These Tapback options are accessed in the same way as they always have been, by tapping and holding on a received message bubble in the Messages app, and you can swipe left and right in the ensuing pop-up to browse the available library of items you can use to respond to an iMessage.

Satellite Communication

Send messages over Satellite communication with iOS 18.

Has it ever happened to you that you’ve tried to send a message to someone, but you were too far out of range of Wi-Fi or cellular networks? It’s happened to me… and it sucks.

Fortunately, iOS 18 will be building upon the widely successful satellite communication features that were previously reserved for emergency services so that you can actually use satellites to send text messages when you have no other form of signal to work off of.

Making use of satellite-based text messaging communications requires an iPhone 14 or later because this is a hardware capability that older iPhones don’t have. Important to note here is that satellite communications will work with both iMessage and SMS-based communications, and if you’re using iMessages, this supports features like Emojis, Tapbacks, and receiving messages too. All messages sent to and from satellite are end-to-end encrypted for your privacy.

When using this feature, the iPhone will guide you through the process of pointing the antenna where it needs to go to properly communicate with the satellite many miles above your head. Apple has went on to say that the experience is as easy as it can be.

Message Scheduling with Send Later

Schedule Messages in iOS 18 to be sent at a specific time or date.

Finally, a feature that I’ve wanted since I got my first cell phone.

When you have a lot of friends and family, it can be a daunting task to keep track of Birthdays and holidays. While the Calendar app can help with this, it doesn’t keep you from forgetting to send everyone a message, which can lead to hurt feelings that nobody wants to deal with.

Fortunately, the iOS & iPadOS 18 Messages apps support message scheduling with a feature Apple calls Send Later, which means that you can draft a message and it won’t be sent to the recipient until the scheduled time and date. In other words, you can get your ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ messages prepared well in advance for your individual friends and family members and those messages will be sent automatically on your behalf at the time you selected.

Another way this can be very helpful is if you know you won’t be around during a certain time of day, or when someone lives in a time zone different than yours. With message scheduling, you can schedule those messages for when you’re going to be unavailable, ensuring the reach the other person at the ideal time, when they are available.

Finally, RCS Support is Here

iPhone gets RCS support in iOS 18.

We probably have governments to thank for this, but Apple is finally bending to the will of the people and picking up support for RCS – a major upgrade over traditional SMS services when texting people who don’t have iPhones.

RCS messages are going to be the new standard for green bubble text messaging, which is important because it helps improve the messaging experience when you’re texting someone who uses Android or another mobile operating system.

Benefits of RCS over traditional SMS include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Support for rich media sharing without the harsh compression that MMS forces on multimedia
  • Interactive features such as ‘liking’ messages, or interacting directly with received or sent messages
  • Lack of a character limit, which is a big enhancement since SMS is limited to 160 characters
  • Read receipts and typing indicators are standard with RCS, which means just like with iMessage, you can see when your Android counterparts have seen your message or when they’re replying
  • Encryption comes standard on many platforms that use RCS, while SMS messages aren’t encrypted
  • And more…

Some governments have scrutinized Apple for not enabling RCS on iPhones, while other handsets around the world have these features, presumably to make iMessage look like the superior messaging platform so that more people would buy iPhones. With RCS adoption, I think users on both sides will benefit, as messaging will no longer feel so divisive.

Great Upgrades to Messaging

I’m excited about many (or all) of the new features coming to the Messages app in iOS & iPadOS 18, as I’m sure many of our readers are as well.

Do you think Apple struck it out of the park with these upgrades, or did the company fall short of some of the features you were hoping to see? Let us know in the comments section down below.

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