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Apple Announces iOS X at WWDC 2016, Featuring iMessage Updates Like “Bigger Emoji”

Today, at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, the world learned about iOS X and the slew of updates that it will include. According to Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, this will be “the biggest iOS release ever for our users.”

The WWDC 2016 announcements also included some updates about non-iOS features that will be rolled out to Apple users, such as a “universal clipboard” functionality that will allow you to copy text snippets on one of your Apple devices and then have access to it elsewhere. I can think of a few ways that idea could go wrong, especially if you share your devices with multiple people, but the idea got greeted with exuberant cheers at the conference nonetheless.

On to the plethora of brand new iOS X features! The most popular announcement of the bunch looks to be the changes getting implemented in iMessage. In an effort to compete with other popular messaging services (like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp), iOS X’s version of iMessage will now include some pretty cool new features, like emoji that are three times bigger than before. You can also replace more words with emoji now, in case that was something you were hankering to do. Apple will highlight any word that you might want to replace with an emoji, and you can tap on it to replace it accordingly. This is all part of Apple’s effort to convert us to pictographic language, I assume.

The emoji news is more silly than useful, but iMessage will also be implementing some helpful new elements, like rich links. This means that links that you message to other people will expand into a preview automatically, and if it’s a video, you’ll be able to play it right in the message. (Unless it’s an Adobe Flash video, which I assume wouldn’t work.)

The message app will now include an “invisible ink” feature, which will cause a message to appear as a bubble until you slide your finger across it and make the text appear. That sounds like a great way to tell the second half of a joke to your friend without spoiling it. Speaking of spoilers, now you could include a spoiler tag in a text message using that functionality, if you aren’t sure whether or not they’ve seen a movie or TV show yet. It also sounds like the type of tool that could be used to send secret messages about a surprise party or jewel heist or whatever other stuff you don’t want appearing on your lock-screen.

Both Apple Music and Apple News will be receiving a big visual overhaul, all in the name of UI simplicity. Apple Maps will also be getting a big update, and it’ll be opened up to developers who might want to mess around with its extensions. Speaking of giving developers more access, Apple is also opening up iMessage and Siri for developers as well. Siri has also gotten some new updates, mostly strengthening her abilities as an AI and turning her into an even more formidable helper.

Those are the broad strokes of the changes to iOS, but again, almost everybody’s excitement seems to be surrounding the changes to iMessage–probably because that’s the app that everybody actually uses. (No offense, Apple Maps!) Have you been longing for the day when emoji would be even bigger? Have you always wished you could deliver texts in “invisible ink”? What about auto-playing videos?

If you’re a developer and you want to play around with iOS X, you can do so already. A public beta will open up in July, with iOS X rolling out for everybody this fall.

(via The Verge, image via screencap)

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