- With the kickoff of WWDC 2020 today, Apple gave us a look at what’s coming in iOS 14 this fall, with a wide range of new functionality planned for iPhones, iPads, Macs, and more.
- Apple’s Messages app is among the services it’s bringing a bevy of new features to.
- Here’s one thing I’d like to see, however, to make Apple’s Messages app even better.
A few days ago, I started researching a trip I might make this fall (the coronavirus pandemic, notwithstanding), and I eventually came to a point of needing to speak with a representative from the hotel that I’ve got my eye on. But not via the phone — who has time for that? I wanted to quickly send a message to someone. My preference would have been through Apple’s Messages app, for which the iPhone maker unveiled a host of improvements at WWDC 2020 on Monday that will make the app lots more useful once the newest generation of the company’s mobile software, iOS 14, arrives this fall.
However, one thing I didn’t hear talked about today amid all the great new features coming to the app — which includes useful tweaks like the ability to now pin your favorite contacts and groups to ensure those chats stay at the top of your messages inbox — is Apple’s Business Chat, which lets you directly message businesses if you’re running an updated version of iOS.
I’ve generally found it annoying and tiresome to use the Messages app for this, even though the feature is actually pretty great — in a limited way. It’s so easy to message an Apple representative, for example, whenever I have a problem with one of my Apple devices, or if I need to do something like make an appointment to see someone at the Apple store near my apartment. Relatively few businesses support Apple’s Business Chat, however, compared to the universe of businesses and corporations out there. Sure, you get some of the usual suspects who work with the service — brands like Burberry, Hilton, and Home Depot — but not … well, not the hotel chain I needed.
I fell back on an alternative to Messages that’s unquestionably useful for things like this: Facebook Messenger.
Everybody and pretty much every brand, it seems like, still has a Facebook page, and since a Messenger inbox is attached to that page, Facebook is like a universal phone book for me. I’ve contacted so many sources this way and successfully gotten lots of businesses to answer my questions with just a few taps, saving myself so much time I would have otherwise spent on the phone.
Now, granted, not every business responds quickly to messages sent through Facebook Messenger, so that’s one thing to take into account. I can forgive the delay, though, because it takes all of two seconds to find the business I want to send a query to.
Alternatively, here’s how you start a conversation via Business Chat through Apple Messages: “You can start a conversation through Maps, Safari, Siri, and Search, and through participating businesses’ websites and apps. Search for the business, then tap and start the conversation.
“If you don’t see when you search for a business, it might not be verified with Business Chat. Not all verified businesses will have the same capabilities, such as making purchases or scheduling appointments through Business Chat.”
I wish it was so much simpler to find the business I want to chat with. Once this happens, it will be easier for me to go all-in on Messages, without needing multiple messaging apps to contact the people and businesses I need. Of course, this is not to suggest the app is not fantastic as it exists now. This preference is just something I’d like to see to make me love it even more.
In terms of the new features that are coming to Messages this fall, here’s a preview that Apple shared today:
“Messages is central to communicating with friends and family, and now it’s easier to stay connected and quickly access important messages. Users can pin conversations to the top of their messages list, easily keep up with lively group threads through mentions and inline replies, and further customize conversations by setting a group photo using an image or emoji. New Memoji options in Messages are even more inclusive and diverse with additional hairstyles, headwear, face coverings, and more.”
To learn more about what’s coming in iOS 14 more generally, head here.