What iOS 10 means for mobile messaging

7 minute read

Upland Admin

These are Waterfall’s preliminary observations on the most visible changes to SMS/MMS message behavior in iOS 10. We will be continuing observation and testing and will provide you with further updates as we collect information.

I’ve seen some really awesome iOS 10 messaging features, like confetti, balloons, shooting stars, and invisible ink. How do I send these messages?

First, you need to download and update to iOS 10 on your iPhone. Once you have the updated OS, you can force touch the up arrow button to expose all of these neat iMessage effect options.

Some of the new messaging effects in iOS 10

The arrow up button?

After typing a bit of text, tap and hold the blue arrow up button to expose additional options.

Force touch, up arrow: press and hold the blue up arrow button to reveal choices

That’s pretty sweet. So can I send my clients messages like these through Waterfall?

We wish you could! However, this is a very consumer-centric feature and Waterfall, along with other messaging providers, do not currently have access to use these new features for marketing messaging.

Really, nothing at all?

Well, there are certain keywords that will trigger an animation, such as “happy birthday” or “happy new year”, you can go into the Waterfall platform, send a test message with that content and check it out.

  • “Happy birthday” will trigger balloons
  • “Happy new year” will trigger fireworks
  • “Congratulations” will trigger confetti

The challenge is that those phrases need to appear on their own and be the most recent message sent to the recipient, so you would need to send your marketing message first, and the separate “effect message” immediately after as a second message.

I’ve noticed that message recipients can do a tapback response to messages received in iOS 10, such as adding a heart, exclamation point, thumbs up or other icons, to previously sent messages. Can my brand capture this customer tapback data to see customer reactions?

Yes, these tapbacks are returned to the Waterfall platform as mobile originated messages (MOs). For example, if they like (thumbs up) your message with the message body “10% off”, the Waterfall platform will display ‘Liked “10% off”’ in the Conversation Stream or Subscriber Profile, and can be captured/reviewed in standard Waterfall reports of incoming MO message data.

Tapbacks: Quick reply to messages without having to type a full response

I’ve also noticed that links in SMS messages appear differently in iOS 10, some have a preview graphic. Can Waterfall do this?

Yes, links that contain http:// and that appear at the absolute beginning or end of an SMS/MMS message will have a preview by default on iOS 10. There is no configuration needed on Waterfall for this to happen.

There are two different types of previews. One that is an “empty preview” which is the preview delivered first from marketing SMS/MMS platforms. It displays a blank grey area without graphics, and the top-level domain name. The user then must tap this “empty preview” to load the “full preview” which displays the associated web page graphic and title.

Empty vs. Full Preview: Tapping to load the preview does not count as a click through

Full previews only appear automatically when a message is sent directly from one iOS 10 user to another. Note, when an Android user sends an SMS with a link to an iOS 10 user, the “empty preview” is displayed.

Actually I dislike the preview and think it will be confusing to my subscribers. How can I force iOS 10 to stop doing this?

There really isn’t a way we can change iOS 10 displays an SMS message, but a workaround to suppress the preview is to make sure a link is inserted in between text. iOS 10 will not generate a preview when a link has text before or after it.

Another workaround is to exclude the http:// altogether.

Eliminate the preview: Use links surrounded by text or lacking http://

Does the preview count as a click through? I am concerned that the previews will mess with my click through data.

No, when long URLs are used the preview fetches the data through the tags and does not access the page and will not impact your click through data.

I want to customize my preview. How do I do this?

By default, the preview will be based on the web page title and favicon, similar to what you see at the top of your browser. The favicon is the graphic icon—also known as the shortcut, website, tab, URL or bookmark icon—associated with a website or web page.

If you want to customize your preview graphic and title, you’ll need to use Open Graph tags on your site. You can read more about these tags here: http://ogp.me/

iOS 10 will pull the title, image and video properties from your page and use those for the preview, so configure and customize accordingly

Non-customized vs Customized preview: The difference of using Open Graph tags or not

I don’t want my subscribers to “tap to load.” Is there any way we could have the preview open by default?

No, unfortunately your subscribers will need to tap to load the preview. The preview only opens by default when a link is sent peer-to-peer from one iOS 10 user to another.

Any suggestions on Open Graph images that are used in web pages that I link to?

If you are optimizing your link by using Open Graph tags within the code of your linked pages, then here are some suggestions based on your needs. Beyond obvious horizontal and vertical image differences, the biggest factor to consider is the your linked page’s Title — the amount of characters displayed will be dependent on the type (and size) of image you choose.

Vertical Image (shorter page title): 400w X 542h pixels = max title of 53 characters
Vertical Image (longer page title): 400w x 497h pixels = max title of 72 characters
Horizontal Image (best of both worlds): 560w X 292h pixels = max title of 109 characters

Open graph images: OG tagged images in the linked page alter the title character length available. Credit to our friends @ Tatango for doing the research.

What if I use a URL shortener, for example a bit.ly link?

For marketing messaging, a shortened URL will always generate an “empty” preview with no graphic and the top-level domain for the shortened URL (which will vary depending on the shortener used). When the preview is tapped, iOS 10 then loads the full preview (preview graphic and title). For example, for the bit.ly shortener, tapping the “empty preview” to load the “full preview” does not record a click through. However, we cannot confirm this is the case for all shorteners, some may record multiple click throughs. If this is critical to your metrics, you will want to test and verify the behavior of the shortener(s) used before campaign launch.

I’ve seen embedded videos in iMessage. How do I send an embedded video to a customer?

This is a feature that is currently specific to YouTube links only. Any YouTube link will generate a preview where the entire video can be played within iMessage in the SMS inbox. A subscriber will not need to use the YouTube app or browser to watch the video. Videos not hosted on YouTube will not be fully embedded and a subscriber will be required to click through to an app or browser page to watch the full video.

Video embed: Currently, only YouTube links will generate a playable preview of the video.

That’s it, for now! Please contact your client services rep with any further questions you might have.

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