First Click: Apple turned iMessage into an MSN Messenger nightmare

September 20th, 2016


I’ve been using iOS 10 for a number of weeks now thanks to a public beta, and I had been living in relative peace and tranquillity until last Tuesday. Apple unleashed its latest iOS 10 update to the world last week, and friends and family have been wreaking havoc on me ever since. Apple has made lots of changes to iOS 10, but the biggest is a new version of iMessage. It’s no longer about text or photo messages, it’s all about stickers, balloons, apps, and games.

I didn't even realize you could send messages with balloons, confetti, or even fireworks attached, but I've certainly learned that from the various messages I've received over the past week. Opening messages now gives me flashbacks to the ‘90s when MSN Messenger and AIM were cool, and everyone was sending each other full screen winks or annoying nudges. The "nudges" in iMessage are the different effects for how messages are delivered, and the "winks" are the annoying backdrops.

Balloons will fill your screen, or fireworks will virtually blast behind your text, and you can't stop certain friends from using these irritating effects unless you block them. If a friend sends 10 messages each with a different effect, you'll have to sit there once you open them and cycle through the various animations as you try to reply without being distracted by shooting stars, lasers, or fireworks. Mix that in with an assortment of sticker options and the chats can soon get very busy, visually.

imessage GIF

Apple is clearly chasing apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Line, and WhatsApp with its iMessage update, and most of the new additions are great. As a know-it-all journalist, I love being able to use third-party apps to correct people's use of their or there. Some of these apps are genuinely useful, like being able to insert transit directions into a message or soccer scores. The problem is that Apple has already set a benchmark for how annoying and irritating these stickers, balloons, and slams can be with messages, and third parties will inevitably push that further.

Thankfully, if you're like me, grumpy and 30-something, then help is at hand. You can disable all the background effects and bouncing text simply by enabling Reduce Motion in the accessibility options on an iPhone. You won't get all the pretty iOS animations, but it will restore your sanity. And with any luck, you'll be able to disable the setting soon. iOS 10 has only been out for a week, and everyone will get over the "fun" of sending balloons with their messages before too long. So you could just wait it out — and try to enjoy the fireworks.

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