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Apple overhauls Messages with new emoji features and app drawer

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Messages is getting a huge overhaul in iOS 10, as revealed onstage at WWDC, including rich media, emoji and a new way for third-party developers to build functions into the system.

The largest change is a new rich media system that lets you embed YouTube links or other web features without leaving iMessage. You can also use "bubble effects" to change the way messages appear within their bubbles, adding a suite of animations. Another feature allows users to "emojify" words after a message has been typed, highlighting specific words in orange and allowing users to transform them into linked emoji on the fly. More minor changes include handwritten texts, a revamped camera module and a "tapback" system for quick replies. Apple also detailed the changes on the company's website.

The biggest change is a new opportunity for third-party integration into Apple's proprietary messaging system. A new program system called iMessage Apps will allow developers to insert third-party applications into an app drawer within the iMessage app, accessible by swiping up. Those apps can contain simple bubble-side images (called "stickers") or other more complex functions that can be dropped directly into the conversation. In an onstage demonstration, Federghi used the feature to coordinate a group food order through a DoorDash iMessage integration. Other integrations from Square Cash and Apple Music are also included.

Developing. Check out our WWDC 2016 live blog for the latest updates and our Apple hub page for all the news!