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How to use new iMessage features and add stickers and games to your chats

Apple’s new iOS 10 update adds a bunch of fun new features to iMessage, including effects, apps, and stickers that you can send to your friends. Unfortunately, it's not immediately obvious how any of this actually works. Confused how to add stickers? Want to send messages with confetti? Read on!

iMessage Apps

The biggest change in iMessage is the addition of apps, which fall into roughly two buckets. There are more traditional app integrations, like Fandango or Venmo. These allow access to app features within Messages, saving you from switching from Messages to another app. Second, there is the fun stuff, like the sticker apps.

Apple has introduced a host of changes to the built-in messaging app. They include new ways of playing games in text messages, of sending pictures to each other and even going back to old school handwriting. It can all be a little confusing at first.

The best place to start is to head into the app and find the new settings that have been added alongside the bar that you usually type. That’s not where every new addition can be found, but it’s got the best of them.

How to install iMessage apps

  • Hit the App Store icon next to the text box in Messages
  • Tap the four-dot icon in the bottom left corner
  • Hit the "+ Store" icon

Once you’ve reached the iMessage App store, you can buy and download new standalone iMessage apps and stickers, as well as manage any installed full iPhone apps that offer iMessage apps support. For example, Alto’s Adventure (the game) has a sticker pack app that can be added in this Manage tab. Since I already had Alto’s Adventure installed, the sticker pack was waiting for me when I installed iOS 10.

A lot iMessage apps are standalone and only exist in iMessage. So don't assume everything is ready to go. You'll want to take some time do discover what's available in this special store. As a helpful tip, scrolling down in the iMessage app store will take you to the top free and paid apps, which is a good place to get started.


Alright, you’ve splurged and bought some stickers (or just downloaded a few free ones) and now you want to use them. First, go back to the app selection page and swipe over to your chosen sticker app. Then you've got two choices. One is to simply tap the sticker, which will place it in the text composing box and allow you to send it like a picture. But the real fun happens when you use the second option: press your finger on a sticker, drag it out of the box, and place it on an earlier entry in your message history. This options allows you to annotate text, photos, or other stickers that have been sent in the past with your sticker of choice.

While each individual type of sticker lives in it's own app — which can be irritating — Apple collects your most recent stickers, across all sticker apps, in its own Recent section of your iMessage app selection window.

iMessage Effects

Another new feature is the option to send messages with effects, like having the message inflate, appear in a shower of balloons, or be hidden by invisible ink. To access effects, type your message or insert a picture in the text box, then 3D Touch (or tap and hold on older models) the send button instead of just tapping it as usual. This will open the library of various effects. As a heads up to my friends and family, expect a whole lot of lasers in your texts.

One thing of note is that while it’s possible to send some of the app’s messages to people using Mac, they don’t seem always to work. Apple’s own features do – including their own apps, like the Music one – but third-party ones don’t always seem to show up as expected.