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Posts tagged with "iMessage"

Healthy Competition

One of the intriguing aspects of iMessage sticker packs is that they can be as simple as static images or as complex as full-blown apps. There’s a place for both, but it’s interesting to see innovation beginning to take shape as a differentiator among sticker sellers.

Health Stickers, by Krishna Kumar, is a good example. It lets you share your exercise and health accomplishments via stickers, whether that’s your step count, weight, heart rate, or something else. What’s cool about the app is that it pulls health data from Apple’s Health app with your permission. Share you step count with a friend in Messages and the sticker includes your current step count total. The stickers cannot update dynamically, but you can always resend a sticker to a recipient if you want to update your statistics. The step count in particular seemed high compared to Pedometer++, but for casual sharing, as opposed to precise measurement, the app has a lot going for it.

Health Stickers is available on the iMessage App Store as a free download.

Exploring the iMessage App Store One Month Later: Our Favorite Stickers and iMessage Apps

It was clear before iOS 10 launched that sticker packs and iMessage apps were going to be big. The only question was – how big? In the last 30 days, the iMessage App Store has exploded. According to SensorTower, there were over 1,650 sticker packs and apps available in the iMessage App Store after just ten days. The first couple of weeks felt like the early days of the App Store. If you wanted to, you could browse every sticker pack and iMessage app available. There were a lot, but you could make out the edges where the store stopped. One indication of the iMessage App Store's growth is that those edges are rapidly disappearing.

Over the past four weeks, we've been scouring the iMessage App Store for the best stickers and apps. We started sharing some of the best in the Club MacStories Weekly newsletter, but every time we went back to the store there were three more cool things for every one we had shared. So, to mark the first full month of iOS 10, we thought we would do another, even bigger roundup of iMessage apps and sticker packs with the best ones shared with Club MacStories members so far, plus a whole lot more.

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The Iconfactory Goes All Out for Halloween

The Iconfactory announced a series of iMessage sticker packs today to celebrate Halloween:

There are a couple unique features to the Iconfactory’s Halloween sticker packs. First, each comes with a Halloween-themed wallpaper that can be accessed by tapping the name of the sticker pack at the bottom of the Messages drawer. Second, each sticker pack is available for a limited time only. When Halloween is over, the sticker packs will vanish like a ghost in the mist.


Shazam Adds iMessage App

Mitchel Broussard, writing for MacRumors:

Popular music-detecting app Shazam today rolled out an update that adds support for the service within Messages, so users can send new artist and song discoveries directly to friends and family members.
The only user interface option within the Messages app for Shazam is "Touch to Shazam," so whenever a song is playing nearby, allow the app to listen and once it does it'll create a card to send to the current contact. The created message can be tapped on to jump into Shazam, buy the track on iTunes, or listen to it on Apple Music.

This is clever: if you're in iMessage and want to share a song you're listening to, you don't have to go look for the Shazam app. Between iMessage and interactive notifications, I like what Shazam is doing with iOS 10.


The iMessage App Store and Paid Stickers

Ortwin Gentz, one of the developers behind Where To, has noticed that the majority of iMessage apps and sticker packs in the top charts seem to be paid ones. He collected some numbers from the iMessage App Store and concluded:

The distribution of business models is even more interesting. In contrast to the iOS App Store where freemium titles dominate the top-grossing charts, the overwhelming revenue in the iMessage App Store comes from paid titles. This reminds me of the early days of the App Store where In App Purchase wasn’t even available.

Probably the #1 reason for this is the lack of IAP in no-code sticker packs. These sticker packs consist only of the actual artwork and are easy to create for designers who don’t want to code.

Currently, basic sticker packs – the ones that only require dropping a bunch of image files into Xcode – can't offer In-App Purchases. As soon as Apple offers an integrated solution to bring In-App Purchases to iMessage sticker packs without writing code, I have no doubt we'll see the iMessage App Store follow the "Free with In-App Purchases" model of the iOS App Store.

Unless Apple is deliberately pushing artists towards paid packs because they do not want to repeat what happened with the App Store? The perception of sticker packs right now reminds me of the early days of the App Store – that good work is worth paying for.


Sticker Pals Messages Sticker Pack

When we published our roundup of iMessage apps and sticker packs yesterday, we had to leave out one of our favorite sticker packs because it hadn't cleared App Review yet. Fortunately, Sticker Pals from Impending was approved last night.

Sticker Pals, which features illustrations from David Lanham, is the single most ambitious sticker pack I've tested with hundreds of stickers divided into categories accessible from buttons along the top row of the sticker viewer. The first four buttons access animated character sets. The other two buttons are a combination of static and animated ’playsets,’ which include things like hats, beards, googly eyes, and food. I've had a lot of fun with these stickers, especially when combined with other stickers.

Sticker Pals also has a store where you can spend coins to collect new stickers or send sticker gifts to friends. The coins and gifts are replenished periodically throughout the day at no charge giving you a reason to return to Sticker Pals over and over, collecting new stickers each time. You can also purchase additional character sets and playsets as In-App Purchases; currently Sticker Pals offers one of each.

Sticker Pals, with its standard set of stickers, is available for as a free download from the iMessage App Store. Additional character packs are $1.99 and new playsets are $0.99.

Messages Apps and Sticker Packs Roundup

Messages started life as an innovative app that unified SMS with Apple’s own free iMessage service when it was introduced five years ago. As time passed, Messages fell behind many of its competitors like Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat, and others.

With the introduction of iOS 10, Apple has made up substantial ground with Messages while upholding its commitment to customer privacy. Few third-party developers would have imagined even a couple of years ago that Apple would open up one of its most important first-party apps to them, but that is precisely what Apple has done with iOS 10.

In the process of unlocking Messages, Apple has created a whole ecosystem of apps and sticker packs with their own dedicated store built right into Messages. Developers immediately sensed an opportunity and an all-new land rush is in full swing.

Over recent weeks, Federico and I have tested dozens of iMessage apps and sticker packs, exchanged hundreds of stickers, made interactive to-do lists, played games, edited photos, and much, much more. Some of the things we’ve tried are highlighted in Federico’s iOS 10 review to illustrate particular aspects of the Messages app, but we’ve seen so many interesting apps and stickers, we wanted to share them with readers in one place.

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The Elements of Stickers

With stickers coming to iMessage in iOS 10, Connie Chan has posted a great overview of stickers in WeChat and Line and why they're more than glorified emoji:

Besides invisible messages, bigger and predictive emoji, full-screen effects, and movie/TV GIFs, Apple recently announced that stickers, too, are finally coming to its most popular app, iMessage. It’s no surprise that messaging is the company’s most popular app — if smartphones are like extensions of our fingers, then messaging is like touching people and things.

What is surprising — especially when compared to the more mature messaging ecosystem in Asia — is that many people still tend to treat stickers (i.e., the ability to easily incorporate pre-set images into texts) as just-for-fun frivolity, when they’re an important visual digital language fully capable of communicating a nuanced range of thoughts. For example, a single sticker could convey very different messages: “I’m so hungry I could collapse” or “I miss you” or “I’m sound asleep snoring”. Complex feelings, actions, punch lines, and memes are all possible with stickers.

(via Jeremy Burge's excellent Emoji Wrap newsletter.)


How Apple Could Modernize iMessage

I don't usually cover concepts and mockups here at MacStories, but this idea by Michael Steeber is exactly what I've been wanting to see in Apple's Messages app for a long time.

One of the best parts of these inline previews is that they aren’t limited just to the Messages app. The same previews could work in other Apple apps like Mail and Notes, or even in third party apps that support document-style text input. A feature like this, while subtle in implementation, has the potential to save a significant amount of time and remove points of friction in anyone’s workflow.

Steeber has come up with several ideas for inline previews, such as web links and Twitter, but also calendar invitations, documents, notes, and weather conditions.

Here's what I wrote in my iOS 9 wishes in May:

Messaging services like Slack and Messenger have proven the utility of automatically generating previews for content shared in conversations such as direct links to images, tweets, or web articles. Considering Apple's integration with Twitter and Safari's Reader capabilities, I'm surprised they didn't consider richer previews for content shared over iMessage before. Compared to the aforementioned messaging services, sharing links to web content on iMessage feels primitive, without the context granted by snippets of information embedded directly in a conversation. It's time for a refresh.

As messaging continues to grow as an interface of its own, it only makes sense to make conversations faster and more contextual by using rich previews of what's being shared. Considering that Apple is using open standards such as and Open Graph for rich results in iOS 9's Search, they could use a similar system to build rich previews in Messages as well.