Text messages are one of the most used communication formats. Senders get a small window to type a short note or load images–and it’s designed to be viewed and responded to quickly.
Apple takes away a lot of that monotony with iMessages, its proprietary messaging service for communicating with other people with Apple devices. There are a ton of cool features that we all use every day—animoji, tapback, links, typing prompts—but I recently discovered a new one that completely passed me by. Hidden behind the little arrow ext your message is a feature called “Send with effect,” and it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
While we’ve seen the automatic balloons that appear when you type “Happy birthday!” in person, you can accompany any iMessage with balloons, lasers, confetti, and other fun visual elements. Special effects iMessages, which debuted back in iOS 10, are exclusive to iOS devices (sorry Mac users) and can be used as one of four chat bubble effects or momentary animations takes up the entire screen. There are 12 options in all.
For example, to place balloons, start typing a text and then press and hold the blue send arrow. That will open the “Send with effect” screen where you can see the available effects. For balloons, choose Screen at the top of the screen and swipe left until you see balloons on the screen. Tap the send arrow and it’s on its way.
Other available full-screen effects are echo (which fills the screen with floating messages), spotlight, confetti, heart, laser, fireworks, and celebration, which fills the screen with golden sparks. You can test the effect by swiping through the available options and watching the animation loop. Send with Echo is especially sweet if you just use an emoji or two as a text message, as you can see below.
Special effects animations are also available for message bubbles, although the effects are faster and more subtle. If you press and hold the send arrow you will see a vertical row of dots representing the bubble options of Slam, Loud, Gentle, and Invisible Ink. The slam comes as a text-based fastball. The energy begins as a small bubble that gradually expands before settling to a normal size. The text inside the Gentle bubble starts small and gradually grows to a normal size. Invisible ink is like a series of tiny scrambled dots that gradually build up to your desired text when tapped.
Just remember, this is an iMessage thing. While Apple lets you choose an effect when sending a regular text message, the user on the other end doesn’t see the effect, it just says it. [Sent with Balloom effect].
Today I Learned is a Macworld column that highlights lesser-known but useful tips and tricks for Apple users. If you have ideas for future columns, send an email to email@example.com.