Messages launched with the original iPhone as "SMS", because that's all it did at the time. Apple had Safari, so they didn't build an old-school WAP browser and it turned out an old-school WAP browser is what MMS needed. So, Apple built one and, once carriers stopped freaking out about the potential bandwidth, added it to the app.
Then Apple did one better: The company announced iMessage, integrated it with MMS and SMS in the Messages app, and ran it on data completely outside carrier's then-lucrative texting rate. Apple proceeded to bring iMessage to iPad and Mac, enhanced group messaging, added instant sound-bites and selfies, and with SMS-relay brought carrier messaging to iPad and Mac as well.
So, the question becomes — what do you want to see Apple bring to Messages and iMessage in iOS 10?
- Allow Messages to be secured by Touch ID or Passcode.
- Extend VIP from Mail to Messages — make it system-wide.
- Allow a confirmation before sending soundbites, selfies, or location.
- Combine FaceTime and Messages together into a single super-app.
- Support for stickers.
- Synergy/Hub style unified person-centric inbox.
- Allow favoriting of a message.
- Per-person read receipts in group messages.
- iMessage for iCloud web app.
- iCloud Drive file attachments.
- Smarter search and filtering to find messages.
Messages is already the most popular app on iOS, and messaging apps are among the most popular period. Some are becoming full-on platforms in their own rights. Whether or not Apple needs to move gaming and other features from the device layer to the messaging layer is a question for another day. Right now, right here, if Apple asked you what you wanted in Messages for iOS 10, what would you tell them?
Originally published January 2015. Updated February 2016.