Updated October 12th, 2020.
Note: this article was originally published in 2016 but Screen Effects are so hidden– and so much fun– that I’ve updated the article and am publishing it again.
You may remember the Apple ad showing someone receiving a bunch of balloons as a “text message.”
The ad doesn’t tell you how to send such messages. That’s MY job.
Here’s how it’s done.
Start by writing your message on your iOS 10-or-higher iPhone or iPad (more or this later), just like you always do. Then, instead of tapping the arrow-in-the-blue-circle “Send” button, hold that button down (you might have to press hard– depends on whether you have an iPhone with 3D touch, and on your 3D Touch settings– Settings/General/Accessibility/3D Touch).
That leads to choices:
You can play with the “Bubble” options and figure them out right away. But we’re talking about Screen Effects here, so tap the big grey “Screen” button at the top. When you do that, you see an animated preview of the Echo effect. You can use Echo right away (just tap the arrow-in-the-blue-circle “Send” button), or swipe from right to left to see the other choices (Spotlight, Balloons, Confetti, Love, Lasers, Fireworks, and Celebration) to choose one of them, and then tap the arrow-in-the-blue-circle to send.
That’s all there is to it. It’s a little bit clumsy but do it two times and you’re an expert.
Here’s a movie to show you how the effects look as you’re choosing them, and how they’re received. Yes, they have sound, so turn up the volume!
Some iPhones, when receiving messages with screen effects, will “shake,” enhancing the effect. Try sending a message with screen effects to yourself to see. You will probably feel the effect when you send the message too.
Note: Screen Effects only work with iOS 10 and higher. The sender’s iPhone (or iPad) has to be on iOS 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 or 14, and the recipient’s iPhone (or iPad) has to be on iOS 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 or 14 too (pretty likely, if you’re sending to someone with an iPhone). If you try to send screen effects (or bubbles) to any other device, the screen effects won’t show up (although the message does go through, and a notice– “Sent with Balloons”– will accompany the message).
Your recipient can tap “Replay” to see the effect again. That’s fun.
The effects don’t show up on a Mac, and you can’t send them from a Mac either, at least not yet. By the time you’re reading this, things might have changed for the better.