How to Use All the New Messages Features in iOS 14

iOS 14 rolled out in September with a completely new look: For the first time, you can customize everything about your home screen, app icons, and much more. With all of the changes, you’d be forgiven for missing some smaller tweaks, including a ton of new Messages features that make it easier to wrangle your texts—specifically the group chats. I don’t know about you, but mine have spiraled out of control during the pandemic.

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iOS 14's Messages features help you organize your chats in a few ways. You can now pin conversations to the top of Messages so you’ll see them first; just long-press on a thread to pin it (long press again to unpin). You can also label group chats with emojis or photos to separate them from the pack by tapping the ‘i’ for information at the top of the conversation. Within a group chat, you can create a thread by replying specifically to a person. Just type the person’s name and then tap on the contact card that pops up with their info. You can also choose to be notified if someone replies to you directly, too. Open Settings, tap on Messages, then scroll down to Mentions. Toggle on the Notify me option.

To see these tips in action, check out the video above.

And, as always, if you have tech questions you want us to answer (either to satisfy your own curiosity or to helpfully share with a loved one in need of some guidance), drop ‘em in the comments.

Consumer tech editor, Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

I was really excited for the pinned messages feature. But the usability of the feature is terrible. Pinned messages appear in a grid, rather than the list that other messages are displayed in, meaning the interaction pattern for them changes. And the preview text for them is displayed as a bubble -- another differing pattern -- that shows far less text than the full-line preview other messages get. Plus, the bubble only appears when a message is unread, yet another pattern break. It’s pretty true-to-form for Apple these days to implement a new feature that looks nice but is actually harder to use than what it replaced.

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