Apple's iMessage instant messenger service hasn't seen a significant update in years, though with an average of 200,000 messages delivered per second it is the company's most-used software by far. This year, Apple will finally give it one — a massive upgrade that recasts iMessage as a platform for developers and in the process raises the table stakes in an increasingly crowded instant messenger service game. Facebook is pushing Messenger hard and at its I/O developers conference last month, Google effectively doubled messaging apps, adding two more to the two it already had.
Announced by Apple Senior VP Craig Federighi during the company's annual WWDC keynote address, the new iMessage will ship as part of iOS 10. Apple has packed it with a groaning board of new features — handwritten notes, vivid full-screen animations, "invisible ink" messages (revealed with a swipe), a tool that intelligently "emojifies" text as you write it ("The children of tomorrow will have no understanding of the English language," Federighi quipped as he described the feature). And, crucially, Apple has invited developers to imbue the platform with even more, by opening it up to third-party apps.
Among the big unveils at this year's WWDC was a software development kit for iOS 10 that will allow developers to build new features and functions into iMessage — some of them quite powerful. Today we're sending photos and messages with iMessage. In a few months, we'll be using it to make dinner reservations, edit photos, buy movie tickets — or send money to a friend who bought them for us.
Following the WWDC keynote, Apple gave BuzzFeed News a first look at the next-generation version of iMessage. Here's what we saw.
Update: This post has been updated to note that Apple’s customers send 200,000 iMessages per second — up from 28,000 in 2012.