At the 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced that iMessage is about to get a fairly substantial facelift in the coming months. It’s not surprising to see that Apple looking is looking to add a greater level of personalization and ease-of-use within the app, especially when you consider the rising popularity of other messaging apps and platforms. With the future of iMessage now set forth, how will the app hold up in comparison to other widely-utilized messaging apps, namely Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp?
The ability to send a message via an app is fairly commonplace in this day and age. To differentiate themselves, iMessage and Messenger have consistently looked to let users better express themselves in their correspondences. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would be greatly expanding its emoji library to to better reflect gender and skin tones. Facebook plans on including more variety when it comes to gender roles within its emoji library, including female emojis that depict a police officer, a swimmer, and a surfer. Messenger also supports GIFs and stickers.
At WWDC 2016, Apple doubled down on its commitment to stay ahead of the curve on personalization, in light of the current emojis arms race. Apple’s iMessage will soon utilize an automatic “emojification” option — simply click the emoji keyboard button and iMessage will highlight all of the “emojifiable” words in your message. By clicking on the highlighted words, you can easily convert the words into emojis. The company also announced that its emojis will soon be three times as big as they are now, meaning we can finally send emojis in peace knowing that our parents will no longer have to search for their “readers” in order to decipher our unnecessary correspondence of simulacrum. This could also be seen as a direct response to Facebook Messenger’s use of larger stickers.
Apple recently unveiled an array of other new features, too, including handwritten messages and sketches, full-screen effects, as well as so-called “bubble effects.” Furthermore, the company acknowledged that it would be opening up iMessage apps to developers, meaning the subsequent apps and personalization are sure to increase exponentially with the release of iOS 10 this fall.
However, personalization is one of the many areas in which WhatsApp simply cannot compete. The app may be the most popular messaging app on the face of the Earth, but the extent of message personalization is exceedingly limited. Emojis and stickers are not directly built into the WhatsApp, though emoticon support is available for use on the iPhone if you’re using the emoji keyboard. This is accessible by simply going to your Settings and then adding the emoji keyboard.