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Apple's iMessage gets new sharing features at WWDC 2021

Apple is breathing fresh life into its homegrown messaging service, with news and photo-sharing tools part of its iOS 15 update.

iMessage gets new sharing features.
Screenshot by CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2022, CNET's complete coverage from and about Apple's annual developers conference.

With intense competition in the messaging app market, it stands to reason that Apple would introduce some new features to its homegrown iMessage service at WWDC 2021 to keep ahead of its rivals.

For the second year running, WWDC is an online event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and along with FaceTime and time management tools, iMessage was high up on this year's agenda as Apple introduced iOS 15, its latest mobile software update.

The focus of the company's iMessage update is sharing, and specifically how we manage and engage with the content that our friends and family share with us.

"These days, so many of our conversations are inspired through sharing articles, photos and more," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior software VP, said during the event. "So this year we're introducing great new ways to enjoy all of this amazing shared content, and the exchanges that follow."

With iOS 15, when a friend sends you multiple photos over iMessage, the images appear in a dynamic collage formation that allows you to swipe through them or tap through to view the whole bunch in your photos app. If you want to access the same photos later, you'll find them stored in a new "Shared with you" folder, as well as mixed in with your own featured photos and memories -- if the photos are from an event or trip you were also part of.

"Shared with you" also works with news articles and playlists, letting you find and engage with content people have sent you, at a time that works for you. In many of your Apple apps, you'll find a dedicated "Shared with you" tab that points to the stored content for when you're ready. It'll also say who sent it to you, and when you click that person's name, it'll take you straight back into that conversation, letting you pick up where you left off.

The "Shared with you" integration works with Apple News, Apple Music, Safari, Apple podcasts and the Apple TV app.

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