Using Multimedia Effects on Your iPad

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

Your iPad now comes with a whole new variety of multimedia effect options. iOS 10 comes with the biggest batch of new Messages effects and features since, well, Apple got into the messaging game. You’ll find a gaggle of bubble and screen effects, handwriting, annotation, Digital Touch, plus the fastest and easiest way we’ve ever seen to replace words with emojis. You can also tap a message to offer a quick reaction to the sender, via what Apple refers to as tapback.

The Messages app in iOS 10 brings a new open architecture and built-in App Store for third-party add-ons, including stickers and additional emojis.

Let’s plunge right in. Follow the previous instructions and choose a recipient or group that you want to engage with, and then tap the right-pointing arrow button just to left of the iMessage text box.

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When sending an iMessage, you can add a picture, sketch, or visit a dedicated App Store.

You can probably guess what tapping the camera-shaped icon does. Yes, it lets you access your camera to snap a new picture (or video) for your outgoing message or to cherry-pick other images from your Photos library.

The heart-shaped icon brings you to an area to sketch or draw or exploit Apple’s so called Digital Touch effects.

And the last icon, with an A inside, gives you access to the new iMessage App Store for stickers and such, not to mention other goodies. Tapping here is also a gateway to sharing the music you’re listening to via an iMessage.

Here’s how to make the most out the new Messages app:

  • To comment on a message with a tapback: Press and hold down on the message until the tapback bubble appears and then tap the appropriate icon.
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Tap a tapback icon to send a quick reaction to the message sender.

If you change your mind and want to dismiss the tapback bubble without adding a tapback icon to the message, just tap the screen anywhere outside the tapback bubble.

Tapback works only with other devices running iOS 10 or macOS Sierra. If the recipients are using any other operating system, they won’t see any cute balloons, just plain old text that reads, “Your-name-here Loved/Liked/Disliked/Laughed At/Emphasized/Questioned item-name-here.”

  • To replace text with an emoji: Type your message and then tap the emoji keyboard icon. As soon as you do, words that have associated emojis turn orange; tap an orange word to replace it with a possible emoji. If the word is associated with more than one emoji, you’ll see multiple emojis in a bubble; tap the one you want and it replaces the word.
  • To add bubble or screen effects: Prepare your message as usual but rather than tapping the little up-arrow-in-a-blue-circle to send it, press and hold down on it for several seconds and the Bubble and Screen Effects screen appears. Tap the Bubble tab at the top to select Slam, Loud, Gentle, or Invisible Ink as the bubble effect for your message (meaning the recipient will have to swipe across the message to read it). Or tap the Screen tab and swipe left or right to select Balloons, Confetti, Lasers, Fireworks, or Shooting Star as the screen effect for this message.

If you change your mind and don’t want to add an effect, tap the x-in-a-circle to dismiss the Bubble and Screen Effects screen.

  • To send a handwritten message: Sometimes nothing but a handwritten note will do. Tap the handwriting icon in the lower-right corner of the keyboard (and shown in the margin). You’ll be whisked off to a white area where you can write your message, using your finger, an Apple Pencil accessory (for iPad Pro models), or a third-party stylus. Tap > if you need more space.

If you prefer choose a preset handwritten message — Ed concedes with far more legible penmanship than his own — tap the tiny clock icon at the bottom-left corner of the white writing area and then tap

  • To send Digital Touch effects: Digital Touch effects were introduced on the Apple Watch and have spread to the Messages app. To use them, tap the Digital Touch icon to the left of the text field (and shown in the margin) to reveal the Digital Touch interface.
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    Choosing a handwritten preset.

    And here’s how it works:

    • To expand the Digital Touch interface to full screen: Tap the caret (^) near the lower-right corner.
    • To sketch: Draw with one finger.
    • To send a pulsing circle: Tap with one finger.
    • To send a fireball: Press with two fingers.
    • To send a kiss: Tap with two fingers.
    • To send a heartbeat: Tap and hold down with two fingers.
    • To send a broken heart: Tap and hold down with two fingers, and then drag down.
    • To switch ink colors: Tap one of circles on the left. If you see only one hue option, tap the colored circle to reveal other choices.
    • To add a picture or video to your Digital Touch effect: Tap the camera icon on the left.

Digital Touch messages are sent automatically, so don’t tap or press the screen in Digital Touch mode unless you really mean it.

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This is what sending a kiss through the Digital Touch interface looks like.

Last but not least, Messages in iOS 10 has a built-in app store so you can buy (or download for free) sticker packs, new effects, and who knows what else. To get some free stickers and see what other third-party add-ons are available, tap the app icon to the left of the text field then tap the four dotted icon at the bottom left corner of the display (shown in the margin), and tap the + to enter the store.

Once you’ve acquired apps, this is also where you access them. So, for example, to send a sticker from a sticker pack you’ve downloaded, you’d tap the App Store icon, and again tap the four-dotted icon.