How to Use New Features in iOS 11 Messages App on iPhone and iPad


iOS 11 iMessage Apps

iOS 10 brought us a whole new iMessage App Store. It’s been a year and while the iMessage App Store is filled with some amazing sticker packs, it hasn’t exactly revolutionized how we use apps. So in iOS 11, Apple is trying once again to improve the experience. It’s not faster and simpler to actually use and organize iMessage apps.

Plus, there are new features like Apple Pay Cash, integration for third party SMS spam blockers and more.

Here’s how to use all the new features in Messages app in iOS 11.

Redesigned iMessage App Drawer

iOS 11 iMessages App drawer

A year after its first release, Apple has redesigned the iMessage app drawer. It now shows up as a ticker in the bottom of the conversation when you first tap on an iMessage chat. Tap on the keyboard and it will go away (you can bring it back by tapping the App Store icon).

The ticker scrolls horizontally. So swipe on it to reveal more apps. As you do, the ticker will expand and you’ll see larger icons and the app’s name.

iOS 11 Messages iMessage Apps

Tap on an icon and the app will replace the keyboard view. You can now use the app just like you’re used to.

This new method should make it easy to bring up the apps you want to use, at the right moment.

Apple Pay in Messages

Apple Pay now works right inside Messages app. There’s a new peer to peer feature in Apple Pay called Apple Pay Cash. This is similar to services like Venmo and Square Cash.

When you’re in a conversation, tap on the Apple Pay icon from the iMessage app drawer. Select the amount, then choose Request or Pay and hit send.

The person will see your request or payment in a rich preview. And they’ll be able to act on it after tapping the preview.

When you receive money, it will be added to your Apple Pay Cash card. You can use this balance to pay for apps on App Store, or online purchases or withdraw the balance to your bank account.

Remove and Organize iMessage Apps

As the iMessage app drawer is redesigned, so is the method or organizing and removing iMessage apps.

From the ticker, swipe to the very end of the list, till you see the Menu button.

iOS 11 iMessage App drawer More button

Tap on it and a new sheet will show up. You’ll see a list of all your iMessage apps here. The ones in the Favorites section, and otherwise.

Tap on Edit.

iOS 11 iMessage Apps rearrange hide 1

You can only reorder apps that are in the Favourites section. To add an app from “More Apps” section to “Favorites”, tap on the green Plus icon.

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To disable an iMessage app, tap on the toggle next to it in the More Apps section.

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To reorder apps in the Favorites section, tap and hold on the handle next to the app, and swipe up and down.

Yes, the system is incoherent and doesn’t really make sense. But that’s the iMessage app drawer management for you. Once you’re done arranging iMessage apps, tap on Done.

New iMessage App Store 

iOS 11 Messages Features 1

Tap on the App Store icon from the Ticker and then select Visit Store. You’ll find that the iMessage App Store has also been redesigned, just like the App Store app. You’ll find Apple Music like design language.

In the redesign, we’ve also lost the toggle that would disable automatically enabling iMessage apps for every new app you install. We hope it’s added back in a future update.

New iMessage Effects

iOS 11 iMessage effects

There are two new full-screen iMessage effects – Spotlight and Echo.

3D Touch to Share Links

Now, when you 3D Touch on any link in the Messages app, you’ll be able to swipe up on the preview to reveal a new Share option at the bottom. This wasn’t available in iOS 10.

iOS 11 Messages Features 3

Once you tap the Share button, it will reveal the iOS Share sheet you’re familiar with.

Quickly Hide Alerts

The Do Not Disturb feature has been renamed Hide Alerts and now there’s a quick way to make sure that when a new message shows up from a particular number, you’re not notified about it. If you get a lot of spam, this can be a good solution.

iOS 11 Messages Features 2

In the Messages app, swipe left on the thread and tap on Hide Alerts.

Automatically Block SMS Spam

Speaking of spam, there’s a new feature in iOS 11 to help you combat SMS spam. This won’t show up until you install a third party app that’s dedicated to sorting through SMS junk.

iOS 11 Messages Features 4

Currently, I’m testing VeroSMS that’s in beta. But by the time iOS 11 comes out, the app should be available to the general public.

Once you’ve installed an app like VeroSMS, go to Settings -> Messages -> Unknown & Spam and turn on the app.

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Now, the messages identified by the app will show up in a new Unknown & SMS spam section and you won’t get notifications for it.

Filter iMessages From Unknown Senders

If you don’t care about iMessage requests from people who aren’t in your contact list, you can turn on the Filter Unknown Senders feature in Settings -> Messages.

Now, unknown iMessages will be sorted in a different list (and you won’t be notified about it). This only works for iMessage and not for SMS.

Coming Soon: iMessage iCloud Sync

iMessage iCloud Sync was one of the most talked about features at WWDC. It would finally solve the issue of iMessage fragmentation between different Apple devices. Once the feature is enabled, all iMessages would sync to devices from a central place – your personal and encrypted iCloud account.

But it looks like there are still some kinks to work out in the feature. It was removed from the iOS 11 betas and it looks like the feature will ship at a later data (and not with the final iOS 11 release). This could be an iOS 11.1 feature.

This is certainly a feature worth waiting for.

Do You Use iMessage Apps?

Do you frequently use iMessage apps? Or do you just use sticker apps? Share with us in the comments below.

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