iOS 10 introduced a brand new app platform to a familiar place — the iMessage protocol in the Messages app. That's right, you can now install apps directly into Messages, and boy oh boy are there a lot of them, which you can access directly from a store within the messaging app. If you're having trouble finding the signal through the noise, here are a couple dozen that you might want to check out.
It's hard enough to decide which restaurant to go to when you're sitting on the couch; it's even worse trying to do it over text message. OpenTable has added a free iMessage app that tries to simplify the process. Browse a list of restaurants; pick a date, time, and party size; then send them to one or more people who can vote on where to go. You can even make a reservation right from inside Messages.
Making plans can easily spiral out of control, especially when you're considering a variety of options. Minipoll makes that simpler by — as its name suggests — letting you create a simple poll to send to your friends. Allow multiple answers or create private polls where only you can see the responses. Answering polls is always free, and you can create three free polls. For $1.99, you can create as many polls as you want.
You might notice a lot of these apps are about making plans, which should give you some idea of just how hard that is. Doodle, the popular scheduling website, has launched a nifty and free iMessage app to help folks pick dates for plans with a handy calendar interface. Recipients can choose the dates that work for them, and update their answers at a later date.
Sharing a weather forecast can be a handy way to remind someone to bring an umbrella, figure out what you need to pack for your vacation, or even just muse how about you wish you were somewhere else. The $3.99 Carrot Weather app for iOS now includes an iMessage app that lets you send a detailed forecast, accompanied by the app's trademark snark, to your contacts.
When you're trying to arrange a trip to the movies, the Fandango's iMessage app can simplify things. Just browse through to pick the movie you want to go see, then select the theater and the showtime. You and your recipient can even buy tickets for the feature without leaving Messages; movie night has never been easier.
We may not have hit Star Trek's universal translator quite yet — we're getting closer — but the free iTranslate is getting closer and closer. With its iMessage app, you can send a text in a language you don't even know, from Afrikaans to Zulu, or translate a phrase from another language just by copying it. Even dictate your initial phrase using your iOS device's microphone.
Apple already encrypts iMessage end-to-end, but when you absolutely, positively need to be totally certain your messages are secure, an app like Confide is one alternative. It sends encrypted text messages or photos to your contacts, which they can reveal a bit at a time; once messages have been read, they self-destruct. (It doesn't even take five seconds, Mr. Phelps.)