Apps for Messages in iOS 10: How to add, delete and manage apps

With the iOS 10 update comes new features for Message, such as digital touch messages, sticker packs and Messages apps. Here's how to manage it all.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
3 min read
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When you update to iOS 10, you'll notice the Messages app got a serious remodel. One of the biggest add-ons -- besides Facebook Messenger-like stickers -- is third-party apps. So, for instance, you can add the Square Cash app and send your friends money without ever leaving a conversation.

Here's how to get started and manage apps in Messages on iOS 10.

What are Messages app anyway?

Messages apps -- technically, "app extensions" -- let you send your friends lots more than just text messages. Stickers, your heartbeat (seriously), drawings and GIFs are just the beginning. Apple like Uber, Square Cash and other app developers also created app extensions, so you can send your friends information (or money) without ever leaving Messages.

Some of these apps are standalone apps, such as sticker packs or an app that allows you to search for images on the web. But Messages apps can also come bundled with the other apps you already have installed on your iPhone. For example, the Genius app will let you search for and apply song lyrics over a picture you take within the conversation.

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In other words, in iOS 10, you no longer need a third-party keyboard to find GIFs, add media or find fun things to add to your conversations in Messages. It's all baked in ... sort of.

Managing Messages apps

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Screenshot by Taylor Martin/CNET

To access all your Messages apps, go to Messages and open any conversation. If your keyboard is collapsed, the apps button will already be visible -- it's the same A logo found on the App Store icon. If your keyboard is open, tap the arrow button to the left of the text input field to expand the options, then tap the apps button (see right).

The leftmost pane will show all the recently used content -- GIFs, stickers and other media -- from all the installed Messages apps. Swiping from right-to-left will take you through all the different apps available. Tapping on the arrow button in the bottom right corner of the screen will expand the current app pane to show more of that app.

Change the order of Messages apps

You can rearrange the order of the applications, including the Recents pane, by tapping on the button in the bottom left corner of the screen. This will show an icon view of all the installed apps.

To change the order of the apps, much like on the iOS home screen, long press to enter edit mode, then drag and drop apps to change their order. Pressing the home button will finalize your changes and exit the edit mode.

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Screenshot by Taylor Martin/CNET

Find and add new Messages apps

To find more apps, open a conversation and tap the apps button. Tap the button in the bottom left corner of the screen to open the icon view and tap the Plus button in the top left. This will open the App Store for Messages.

Here, you will find all the compatible standalone applications for Messages, such as sticker packs, GIFs, video and audio apps and more. When you find an app you want, tap Install and wait for it to download. It will be added as the rightmost panel in your list of Messages apps.

You may also come across Messages apps in the full App Store. The app store page will be marked with a message that reads Only for iMessage but you can install it like a regular app.

Automatically add apps

For iMessage extensions and apps that come bundled with an iOS app, you will need to enable Automatically Add Apps or manually enable them. You will find the toggle switch for such apps in the App Store for Messages under the Manage tab.

Delete Messages apps

If you no longer want a Messages app, you can easily remove it.

Open a conversation and tap the Messages apps button. Tap the button in the bottom left corner of the screen to open the icon view and long press to enter edit mode. Tap the X button in the upper left corner of one of the icons to uninstall it.

Unlike when uninstalling iOS applications, there is no confirmation for uninstalling an Messages app. Tapping the X will immediately uninstall it.

To quickly remove multiple apps, open the App Store for iMessage and open the Manage tab. To remove one of the installed apps, tap the toggle button to the right to switch it to the Off position. When you tap Done and back out the App Store, the apps will be removed.