7 iOS Message apps you should try right now

Don't worry, it's not all Mario stickers. Here's a look at some fun and practical Message apps.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
4 min read
Watch this: iOS 10: Best free apps to try in Messages

Don't look now, but Messages just became the hub of your iPhone. Thanks to changes in iOS 10, you can now use the app to send money, play games, trade stickers, find and discuss dining and entertainment, manage travel and much more.

Oh, yeah: It still does messaging, too.

Make no mistake, many apps for Messages are kind of pointless. Personally, I don't see any reason to clutter up a conversation with, say, a game of Words with Friends -- not when there's already a perfectly good app you're already using.

But there are some decidedly fun and practical apps you'll definitely want to check out. Here are seven of my favorites so far -- all of them freebies!

Rick Broida/CNET

1. Chatterbird

Messages now lets you doodle and send animations -- but where are the sound effects? Right here in Chatterbird, which lets you choose from a variety of cutesy sounds (farts and all). Just tap one to hear it, or long-tap to add it to your outgoing message.

You can also tap a red "record" button to capture audio of yourself, then apply various filters -- think Instagram for your voice -- such as robot, Darth Vader, background sound effects (jungle noises, anyone?) and so on. If nothing else, it's a great way to annoy your friends.

2. Circle Pay and Venmo

"You owe me $10 for lunch."

You just paid DaveJ $10.

That's about how long it takes to send someone money using Messages and a peer-to-peer payment app such as Circle Pay or Venmo. Like their standalone counterparts, these apps let you swap money with just a few taps -- no fees, no hassles. Circle Pay is particularly nice in that it allows you to add a debit or credit card to your account just by snapping a photo of it. It also supports international payments, allowing you to send money in not just dollars, but also euros and pounds. (It works with Bitcoin, too.)

3. Do With Me

A shared to-do list can be a powerful thing. It might be household chores for your family, a grocery list you share with your spouse, or even a batch of assignments for your employees or coworkers. Whatever the case, Do With Me makes it easy to set up and share those kinds of lists.

I suspect this is something better-suited to short and/or last-minute items, such as "things to grab at the store on the way home from work" or "final party-prep tasks." Lists likely to take days or longer to complete should probably hang in another app. But for the quick-and-dirty stuff, Do With Me does the job.

4. Doodle and I'm In

Do With Me handles the to-do lists; apps such as Doodle and I'm In handle the scheduling. Specifically, they make it much easier to pin down a date with a group of people. You know the kind: "Are you free on the 27th? What about the 29th?" That kind of thing is virtually impossible via group text (or email, for that matter), which is where Doodle and I'm In come in.

All you do is set up an event, select two or more viable dates, then send the message to the participants. Everyone taps to indicate their availability and, presto, consensus is achieved. Use this to plan your next date, group hang, business meeting or whatever. This is arguably the best reason yet to have apps in Messages.

5. iTranslate

Hola, amigo! Now you can converse with anyone anywhere, even if they speak a different language. With iTranslate, you simply choose your preferred language (from Afrikaans to Zulu, with dozens of options in between), type your message as usual, then tap the green arrow.

The translation will appear in a Messages bubble, where you can add a comment or tap the blue arrow to send it. Language barrier: crushed!

Interestingly, this capability already existed in the form of third-party keyboards, such as Translate Keyboard Pro, but this app version not only bypasses the hassle of switching keyboards, it also offers one important advantage: support for voice recognition.

6. JibJab

Put your face on an animated snow angel. A dancing roller-skater. A strawberry jumping atop a stack of pancakes.

Yep, that's JibJab, which has been doing these kinds of face-transplants for as long as I can remember. Except now you can embed these frequently hilarious (and occasionally disturbing) animations in your messages.

7. Truth Truth Lie

Utterly pointless -- and utterly hilarious -- Truth Truth Lie is the Messages version of the classic party game Two Lies and a Truth. Except here the numbers are inverted.

You record three short videos of yourself. The first two are truths; the third is a lie. The app sends that video to your friend, who must guess which one is a lie. It's stupid fun that's especially great with new (or drunk) acquaintances. Just be forewarned that you're sending data-hungry video, so TTL is best played when you're connected to Wi-Fi.