The iOS App Store is one of several reasons we love the iPhone, especially when it comes to video games, with the likes of Pokémon Go, Minecraft: Pocket Edition and Plague Inc. consuming so much time. Now there’s the iMessage App Store, and quite frankly, Apple just turned the world of texting upside down in the best way possible.
You gain access to the iMessage App Store with the new iOS 10 update, which takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes to install on your iPhone of choice; over a speedy Wi-Fi connection. From there, go into any text message conversation and look for the four ovals on the bottom left corner of the screen. Press them and you’ll see an icon for the Store on the left.
The first thing you’ll likely see are stickers, which are sort of like emojis but with licensed content. Perfect example, the free Super Mario Run Stickers, which feature Nintendo’s mascot in a variety of poses, along with iconic objects found in the Mushroom Kingdom, including the Super Mushroom, gold coin and question mark box. This sticker pack is a must download, and when Nintendo inevitably releases stickers for games like Zelda, Kirby and Metroid… productivity will officially cease.
Not all sticker packs are free. The Pokémon Pixel Art English Sticker Pack (part 1, by the way) costs $1.99 and is worth the cash. You receive classic pixel art from the first Pokémon Red and Blue games on the original Game Boy, allowing you to send Pikachu and pals to your friends. We need this in our lives.
OK, stickers are cool, but what about games? Yes, there are now iMessage video games! Seriously. You can literally play Words with Friends, Checkmate! (chess) and MsgMe TicTacToe directly through iMessage instead of leaving the app to select a video game. So, basically… you and your friends take turns.
The list of games is sparse, but we expect publishers to branch out into different genres in the months ahead. Imagine a turn-based role-playing game, for instance, or perhaps some of art-based app where you and your friends take turns collaborating on a text message masterpiece.
This is why we’re so excited… back when the App Store launched in 2008, it was difficult to predict how huge it could become and types of games that we’d see. Now, eight years later, we see the enormous potential for iMessage games that go beyond trivia and picture puzzles. Will a company like Square Enix bring a Final Fantasy-themed iMessage game to the app? Because of the Final Fantasy games for iPhone and iPad that currently exist, it’s a definite possibility.
For now, we’ll continue to have a blast drawing pictures and sending Mario stickers. Kudos to Apple for breathing new life into text messages. At this point, the familiar poop emoji feels so blasé.