iOS 12 adds a Snapchat-like camera for iMessages, with AR-powered Memojis

Apple

Messaging is evolving from thumbed-out text messages to visual communication from built-in cameras inside everything from Snapchat to Facebook Messenger. And now Apple is joining the trend with a handful of camera-focused updates for iOS 12. The Apple Messages app will soon have a built-in camera with filters, stickers, and Memoji avatars, Apple announced during WWDC on June 4. iOS 12 also focus on sharing photos with friends through an update to Photos, while the same Messages camera effects will also be available in FaceTime.

The new Messages and FaceTime Camera

Stickers and photos aren’t new to Messages, but with iOS 12, the camera inside the native text messaging app will feel more like the cameras built into social media platforms, stopping short of augmented reality masks. Rather than sending a single solitary sticker, the stickers can be placed on top of an image using the Messages camera. The option to place stickers isn’t quite up to AR mask level, but stickers can soon be used to add a pair of sunglasses to your selfie instead of sending just a plan sunglasses filter. Continuing to follow apps like Snapchat, Facebook Camera and Instagram Camera, the built-in camera in the messaging app can also place text as well as shapes over the photo.

The built-in camera also uses filters to edit the photos without leaving the texting app. The filters will roll out with options like comic book and watercolor, Apple says.

The messaging app will also gain the ability to create Memojis, which are personalized avatars, without leaving the texting app. The platform’s Animojis are also expanding, and both the Memojis and Animojis are animated with actions like winks and stuck-out tongues. Those Memojis and Animojis can be placed just like stickers, which means you can swap out your own head inside that selfie for an Animoji.

All those same camera tools will also be available for FaceTime conversations, which Apple also expanded to allow for group calls with up to 32 other people today.

While Apple Messages isn’t (yet) gaining the augmented reality masks, the changes feel similar to Snapchat and Facebook Camera. Visual communication has been on the rise since emojis, but it’s a trend that’s accelerated because of the visual tools inside social networks and messaging platforms. A study by Facebook last year suggested that those who use forms of visual communication rate their conversations as “great” more often than non-visual communicators.

While Apple Messages isn’t (yet) gaining the augmented reality masks, the changes feel similar to Snapchat and Facebook Camera. Visual communication has been on the rise since emojis, but it’s a trend that has accelerated because of the visual tools inside social networks and messaging platforms. A study by Facebook last year suggested that those who use forms of visual communication rate their conversations as “great” more often than non-visual communicators.

Apple Photos

Apple

The iOS 12 update to Photos is also partially focused on sharing. After the update, Photos will suggest photos to share with friends. The app will use factors like facial recognition to suggest sharing photos with the friends you spent the day with, all inside a new section Apple calls For You. 

On the receiving end of a shared photo? Photos will soon suggest images to share back. The share back suggestion comes from photos or video of the same event, Apple says.

The search inside Photos will also see enhancements. Inside the search tab, the app will soon suggest Events, People, Places, Groups, Categories, and recent searches before you type into the search bar. If the category suggestions aren’t enough, the search bar will also allow users to search for multiple terms at once.

The photo announcements come from the opening keynote of WWDC — Apple will likely dive into more detail and share additional features for the new operating system during the week-long event designed for developers. The new mobile operating system will roll out this fall, while developers can get their hands on a beta version now.

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