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7 hidden iPhone Messages features you need to know about

Updated Sep 27th, 2023 9:03AM EDT
iPhone Messages
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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Even if you use the iPhone’s Messages app every day, there’s a chance you don’t know everything it’s capable of. To fully appreciate the app, BGR gathered a few of the most hidden secrets Messages offers users. Here they are.

1. Track Live Flights: No other app is required. If you have a friend or family member flying, you can see exactly where they are as long as you know the flight number. Imagine the flight is LA8085, and they just sent you that. Long press the message and then tap on “Preview Flight.” You’ll see everything you need to know about it.

2. Unlock animations with secret codes: You can get custom animations depending on the phrase you sent on iMessage. While you can long press the “Send” button before sending a message to choose a proper animation, you can also trigger them depending on the message. Here are some examples:

  • Happy Birthday! – balloons will appear
  • Congratulations! – confetti rain
  • Happy New Year! – fireworks
  • Happy Chinese New Year! – red explosion
  • Pew pew – laser light show

3. Unread a message: One of the best features available with the Messages app on your iPhone running iOS 16 is the ability to mark a message as unread. If you have already read it but don’t have time to reply at the moment, you can leave a notification badge on it. To mark messages as unread, tap and hold a conversation in the app’s inbox and select “Mark as Unread.”

4. Stop spam messages: iMessage has a great feature that can split your Messages inbox by different senders. On the Settings app, tap Messages, then toggle on Filter Unknown Senders. Scroll up, tap Notifications, Customize Notifications, and toggle off Unknown Senders. With that, you won’t be notified about spam or messages from people you don’t know. You just need to check the Unknown Senders tab every now and then.

5. Try Visual Look Up on sent messages: Visual Look Up works like Google Lens, which can tell you what’s in an image. When you receive a photo on a chat, tap it and then select view the info that pops up. Then, Siri will tell what’s in the image, such as a historic place, a dog’s breed, etc.

6. Quickly open Photos: With iOS 17 now available, there’s a new menu to access your Photos, share your location, and more. To avoid tapping it too much, just long press the “+” icon to fast access your library.

7. Check-in: This is a new iOS 17 feature. It works when a user wants to notify a family member or friend that they have safely made it to their destination. After a user initiates a Check-In, their friend or family member will automatically be notified when the user arrives. If they are not making progress toward their destination, useful information will be temporarily shared with the selected contact, such as the device’s location, battery level, and cell service status. Any information shared is end-to-end encrypted.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.

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