It didn’t get a ton of attention Monday, but Apple’s next mobile operating system means significant changes for how iPhone users send and receive messages.

If you’re an Apple user, this is a big deal. Messages is the most frequently used app in iOS, and is how most users share texts, photos and videos with each other.

With iOS 8, coming this fall, Apple is borrowing features from popular messaging platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp while unveiling some new tricks of its own.

Here’s a quick look at the new messaging features announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. We’ll find out in a few months whether they catch on with users.

Audio and video messages

The text window in the next version of iMessage will contain a little microphone button. Users hold a finger down on the button, record a short audio or video message, and send it with the swipe of a finger — all without leaving the app.

In this way, Apple is taking a page from WhatsApp, which also allows audio and video messages. Facebook bought that startup, which has a huge user base overseas, in February for $19 billion.

Audio files will appear in your Messages stream as jagged lines. Simply tap on them to listen to the message. Apple did not say Monday whether there will be a limit on the length of the messages.

 

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