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Nice Try Apple, But I Still Won't Be Using iMessage

When Apple announced their new developments for their OS on the Mac, iPhone, Watch, and TV on Monday at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday (13 Jun), the Internet went bipolar – some proclaiming their excitement (especially for the deletion of stock apps), while some stating that the announcements lacked punch and the simplicity that late Apple CEO Steve Jobs would have preferred.

The reception in general, though, was mostly lukewarm, with calls that Apple needs to start inventing instead of reinventing what’s currently available.

However, even as someone who uses Apple products (iPhone, iPod, Macbook Pro) for a large majority of my daily functions, many of the announcements didn’t really excite me, and somehow left me wanting more. Perhaps it can be argued that the announcements were geared towards developers as compared to consumers, but the announcements simply left me saying, “That’s it?”

For example, the Voicemail transciption tool would be so useful if they can also applied to Voice Memos – here’s to no more late nights poring over a word document while replaying meeting minutes! The announced function does seem redundant because the person who missed your call could easily just drop you a text message – eliminating the risk that the voice recognition technology doesn’t understand mumbles and heavy accents.

Also, who still uses voicemail these days?

iMessage Updates – More Flash Than Substance?

When tech wing of popular online publication Buzzfeed, Buzzfeed Tech, posted onto their Facebook page a video summarising and demonstrating the impending upgrades to the iMessage, social media went gaga, and there have been over 165,000 shares and over 149,000 reactions to the almost 2 day old video.

However, a closer read of the comments posted on the video revealed that the upgrades, as aesthetically pleasing and fun they seemed, were more of a novelty.

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To be fair, let’s take a look some of the upgrades from both the video and this writeup from Mic, and rate the features according to potential usefulness.

1 – Handwritten Notes

Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech
Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech

If you’ve got ungraceful fingers and unintelligible handwriting like me, this function will only serve to remind you of that.

While it does seem to go with the idea that handwritten messages are more sincere, and the recipient actually gets to see the message as an animation, I highly doubt that this function would be commonly used for communication, even with the steadiest hands and strokes.

For me, text messaging should be efficient – if I wanted sincerity, I’d request for their address and write an actual letter on paper.

Verdict: C

2 – iMessage Apps

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Image Credit: TheVerge

With the upgrade and Apple allowing developments to plug into the app, users will potentially be able to order food, buy movie tickets and even send money to a friend without leaving their ongoing message. Gifs and stickers can also be sent using the linked apps.

It is said to work like Facebook Messenger’s third-party chat bots, and I would give this a try once my OS is updated – who knows, it might be a reason that I’ll use iMessage (sometimes).

Verdict: A

3 – Tap To Replace Emoji

Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech
Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech

Where do even I begin with this.

While emojis are great to add some flavour into text messages, replacing words with them is another thing entirely. As mentioned by one of the Facebook comments above, this feature would definitely be a hazard if users get so focused on choosing the ‘right’ emoji that they end up ignoring their surroundings.

Verdict: C

4 – Fullscreen Animation

Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech
Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech

A feature already familiar to Facebook Messenger users, it definitely gets the mood going on certain occasions, but when used too often, becomes annoying. There are also foreseeable limitations in terms of what types of effects can be created by developers which will make this function more relevant.

For it’s potential lack of expansion, this seems more like an adaptation of Facebook Messenger’s already available function as compared to being something uniquely Apple.

Verdict: B-

5 – Bubble Effects

Image Credit: Apple
Image Credit: Apple

Ripples and expanding bubbles are a cute alternative to capital letters, but imagine having a group conversation with these turned on! The ripples also remind me of the time when ‘nudge’ on MSN messenger was a means to annoy friends.

Will ripples be the new nudge? Perhaps, but count me out of it.

Verdict: B

6 – Tapback

Image Credit: Apple
Image Credit: Apple

This reminds of me of the thumbs up option on Facebook Messenger, and it’s undoubtedly useful because it’s even more spiffy than replying a message with an already very basic “K’!

Personally, this is something I do hope will also be expanded on, and integrated into other message applications.

Verdict: B

7 – Invisible Ink

Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech
Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech

Make your phone a scratch card!

But seriously, this is great new for more, uhm, private messages, especially when you’re neck-to-neck with other commuters on a packed morning train to work. It also adds for more excitement, especially in group chats, but as with the other new features, it could get old rather quickly.

Verdict: B-

8 – Customisable Photos And Videos

Image Credit: Apple
Image Credit: Apple

Taking a leaf from Snapchat’s book, iMessage now allows users to customise their photos and videos with drawing tools and even stickers they can ‘paste’ onto the media.

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Image Credit: Buzzfeed Tech

Nothing new again, but it definitely beats needing to use third-party editing apps when communicating on other messaging apps. The inclusion of stickers, and even animated ones, also make this update pretty interesting to check out.

Verdict: B+

Final Verdict

As someone whose Message inbox is filled with advertisements and One-Time Password notifications, the new iMessage features just don’t seem to entice me to jump ship from the other messaging apps I’m currently using.

Perhaps it’s a generation thing, because an intern in the office is raving about how exciting the changes were – but for me, it just seems like a rehash of already available messaging features, albeit on other platforms.

The new inclusions, other than the linkage to other apps, don’t seem to have a very ‘timeless’ appeal to them, and feel more like a novelty as compared to an actual improvement.

Sorry Apple. I’ve been a fan, but the new iMessage still doesn’t cut it.

 

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