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iOS 17’s Messages app has a brilliant gesture you need to learn

Published Sep 23rd, 2023 10:33AM EDT
iOS 17 brings a Messages app redesign.
Image: Apple Inc.

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The public iOS 17 release has been out for a few days. I’m still getting used to some of the new features that Apple added to the iPhone operating system. I have not tried any of the iOS 17 betas, which was a first for this longtime iPhone user. Usually, I dive right into the iOS betas to test what’s new before the September release.

Overall, iOS 17 has no big features, which might be why I didn’t run any beta releases, not even the more recent ones. But iOS 17 offers users plenty of smaller tweaks and functionalities you’ll appreciate.

One of the things I love about iOS 17 is the new Messages app redesign. The app now features a brilliant gesture you have to learn immediately. You’ll use it all the time for sending photos to friends and family members via iMessage.

I never liked the cluttered bottom section of the iMessage app, particularly because I hardly used most of the features in there. I’m most likely to send images or videos while chatting, whether I use the Camera app to capture them or the Photos app to select the ones I want to share. I use those buttons all the time.

Come iOS 17, that bottom section of the Messages app is much cleaner. Apple placed a simple “+” menu on the left side. That menu hides all the menu items you’d have found in the bottom bar. That includes the Camera and Photos shortcuts for sharing photos.

iMessage's new UI will place all the menu items under a "Plus" symbol on the left of the text field.
iMessage’s new UI will place all the menu items under a “Plus” symbol on the left of the text field. Image source: Apple Inc.

All the other apps you might want to use in iMessage are right there. A long press on any of them lets you reorder them, so the ones you use most are readily available.

This simple design change makes Messages look much cleaner than before, and I’m certainly a fan of it. The redesign was one of the highlights for me since Apple introduced it on stage at WWDC. I knew how the menu would work even before installing iOS 17.

What I didn’t know is that it has an excellent shortcut to the Photos app to let you picture images faster. You’re bound to discover it accidentally if you long-press that “+” sign. That’s all you need to do for the Photos image picker to come into view. Once that happens, you can select the pics you want to send to the person(s) you’re talking to.

It’s not a groundbreaking feature, but it’s the kind of shortcut that will save you time when dealing with iMessage conversations that involve sharing lots of media. Strangely enough, the long-press gesture doesn’t provide a haptic response, which would indicate that you’re looking at some sort of new gesture here.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.