iOS 15 Messages Guide: New Features, Photos, Updates

Apple's FaceTime app was the main focus for many of the iOS 15 updates that were introduced, but the Messages app wasn't entirely forgotten. Apple introduced a new Shared with You feature and streamlined several interface elements to make the Messages experience more pleasant.

iOS 15 Messages Guide Feature
This guide outlines all of the new features that Apple added to the Messages app in ‌iOS 15‌ and iPadOS 15.

Shared with You

The main new feature in the ‌iOS 15‌ Messages app is Shared with You, which aggregates content that people share with you in Messages into the proper apps. So if someone sends a photo, it shows up in a Shared with You section in the Photos app.

messages app shared with you
This isn't strictly a Messages addition because it's actually other apps that have this new section, but it does make Messages content much more accessible and less likely to be forgotten. There are multiple Shared with You integrations, as outlined below.

  • Photos - When someone sends you a photo in Messages, it automatically appears in the Shared with You section of the ‌Photos‌ app, which is located in "For You." Tapping on an image lets you save it to the photo library, and it has a record of who sent it. If you tap on the name of the person that sent it, it automatically opens up the Messages app so you can have a conversation.
  • Safari - Any link sent to you in Safari is stored in the Shared with You section of the main start page that's opened when you open up a new tab. Safari shows a preview of the link so you can see what it's about, and tapping the link opens up the website.
  • Apple News - A link to an Apple News story that's sent to you will be stored in the Shared with You section that's located in the Today and Following tabs in ‌Apple News‌. Stories that are found in News and Safari show up in Shared with You in both apps.
  • Apple Music - Music links sent in Messages are shown in the Shared with You section of Apple Music, which is located under Listen Now.
  • Apple Podcasts - If you're sent an episode of a Podcast or a link to a show, it's listed in the Shared with You section of Listen Now in the Apple Podcasts app.
  • Apple TV App - When a friend sends a movie or a TV show link over Messages, the TV show or movie will appear in the Shared with You section of Watch Now so you can find it quickly.

Shared With You is an optional feature and for those who do not want to use it, it can be disabled. Just go to Settings > Messages and tap on "Shared With You." From there, you can turn off Shared With You entirely or choose the specific categories where you want to see Shared With You content. Options include Music, TV, Safari, ‌Photos‌, Podcasts, and News. Any category toggled off will prevent the accompanying app from featuring a Shared With You section that includes content from the Messages app.

Shared With You - Continue Conversations

In all apps that have a Shared with You section, content in these sections makes it clear who sent it to you. There are name labels that you can tap to go right to the Messages app so you can have a conversation about what was shared. Tapping the name label on an item shared with you also opens right up to the associated message so you can see the original conversation.

messages shared with you conversation

Shared With You - Pinning Content

If someone shares something with you that you definitely don't want to forget about, such as a photo or a link, you can long press on it and choose the "Pin" option. Pinned items are shown first in Shared with You, in Messages search, and the Details view of a Messages conversation.

messages app shared with you pin

Photo Collages

Multiple images sent in the Messages app now show up as a little photo collage of images stacked on top of one another. You can tap the collage and swipe through it to see each image in the stack. At the top left of the full screen interface, you can tap to see all of the images in a grid view, and there are also quick access tools for replying, adding a tapback response, downloading an image, or sharing it.

messages photo stack grid

Improved Photo Saving

All images you're sent in the Messages app have a little download icon next to them that can be tapped to save them, which makes it much easier to save a photo that you're sent to the photo library on your device.

Updated Photos Image Picker

The ‌Photos‌ image picker, including in the Messages app, now allows you to select photos in a specific order for sharing.

messages photo view select order

International Updates

Apple added a few country specific features to address issues with spam. In Brazil, on-device intelligence filters out unwanted SMS messages and organizes them into Promotional, Transactional, and Junk folders to keep clutter out of the main Messages inbox.

In India and China, there are options to turn notifications on or off for unknown senders, transactions, and promotions so users have more control over which types of messages are able to send notifications.

New Memoji and Memoji Stickers

Memoji, which are used in the Messages and ‌FaceTime‌ app, have been updated in ‌iOS 15‌ with 40 new outfit choices, an option to choose two different eye colors, new glasses options, new headwear options, and new accessibility options that include cochlear implants, oxygen tubes, and soft helmet.

messages app memoji
Apple has also added nine new Memoji stickers like hand wave and lightbulb moment, heart hands, and more.

Other Messages Tweaks

  • Group Message Access in FaceTime - In ‌FaceTime‌, there's an option to access a group Messages thread with the people you're chatting with.
  • Focus Message Status - If you have Focus mode on and someone tries to send you an iMessage, they'll see a status update letting them know that you're in Focus mode. Friends and family can break through the Focus mode message with an urgent message.
  • Messages Photo Search - If you do a search with a contact name included, you can use Spotlight to find photos that person has sent you.
  • Announce Messages in CarPlay - Siri can now announce your incoming messages in CarPlay.

Guide Feedback

Have questions about Messages in ‌iOS 15‌, know of a feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Related Roundups: iOS 15, iPadOS 15
Related Forum: iOS 15

Top Rated Comments

zorinlynx Avatar
14 weeks ago
I have to wonder, are there really that many people who are able to use iMessage with every single friend and family member they have?

I have a mix of Android and iOS users in my friends and family circle, and thus can't invest myself too much in fun silly iMessage stuff because I can't use it with over half of my contacts. I wish Apple would put together an iMessage app for Android, much like Google has equivalents to their Android apps on iOS.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dguisinger Avatar
15 weeks ago
Shared With You has got to be one of those features I really don't want. Luckily I don't use some of the apps like News, but I really don't want to go into an app and see it cluttered with stuff people shared with me that I wasn't interested in to begin with and likely already ignored.....
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
miq Avatar
14 weeks ago
Sounds like a bunch of (mostly) useless bloat
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
15 weeks ago

Shared With You has got to be one of those features I really don't want. Luckily I don't use some of the apps like News, but I really don't want to go into an app and see it cluttered with stuff people shared with me that I wasn't interested in to begin with and likely already ignored.....
Funny, I'm looking forward to the Shared With You features - occasionally, I find myself scrolling back a week in messages to find a URL that a friend/relative sent me - having a separate section in Safari that I can get into with a single tap that has all these links will be quite helpful. It sounds like, in each case, it'll be behind a "Shared With You" button, not cluttering up your main display. (I'm not at all sure that I'll like all the other UI rearrangement they're doing in Safari.)

I'm also looking forward to being able to control the order of pictures when sending several to someone in Messages - that has annoyed me multiple times, sending "here's, uh, steps 3, 1, and 2 of the process". And Group Message Access in FaceTime sounds handy (I often find myself flipping back and forth between Messages and FaceTime).

My niece will love the additional Memoji features to play with, though I know everyone here will hate them.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
x86dude Avatar
14 weeks ago
Teams of people having so much fun creating new features.

You would think they could spare just one person to move the “send” icon away from the text entry box.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hagar Avatar
14 weeks ago
Does it fix the biggest annoyance ever? That it sends messages to the last used number of a user?

Say I have a conversation with someone on their mobile number. I have both their mobile and work number stored in a single contact (as you’re supposed to). Then they call me using their work number.… and then it happens: the next time I continue the iMessage conversation, my message is sent to their work number. Which bounces because it’s a landline.

Why? Why? Why?

iMessage is polite enough to turn the blue bubble in a green one. But why does it switch over? And how do I stop this from happening?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

safari copy links

iOS 15 Features, Tips, and Tricks You Probably Don't Know

Wednesday October 6, 2021 11:16 am PDT by
With the release of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 on September 20, Apple introduced millions of users to several of its new tentpole features for iPhone and iPad, such as Focus Mode, Notification Summary, a redesigned Safari, and more. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. But beyond the headline features, Apple has also made numerous tweaks and changes to its mobile operating...
Ultimate iOS 15 Guide Feature

The Ultimate iOS 15 Walkthrough: Guides and How Tos for Every New Feature

Monday September 20, 2021 2:45 pm PDT by
While iOS 15 was in the beta testing phase, we here at MacRumors wrote up a series of in-depth feature guides to highlight everything that's new in the update, along with how tos to walk you through using those features. This is a comprehensive guide with all of our coverage, and it's a great resource for casual users who haven't had a chance to test out iOS 15 prior to its launch....
iOS 15 Top Features

iOS 15 Features: Our Top 10 Picks

Monday September 20, 2021 1:11 pm PDT by
iOS 15 is absolutely packed with new features, and it can be overwhelming sorting through everything that's new. If you're wondering whether it's worth upgrading and what new features might be worth getting access to right away, we've rounded up 10 of the best new additions in the iOS 15 update that you might not be aware of. 1. Android and Web-Based FaceTime For the first time, FaceTime is ...
iOS 15 Podcasts Feature

Everything New in the iOS 15 Apple Podcasts App

Friday September 24, 2021 8:45 am PDT by
The Podcasts app gets a number of improvements in Apple's recently released iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 updates, including the new, systemwide Shared with You feature, personalized recommendations, new keyboard shortcuts, and more. This guide walks through all of the main new features and improvements added in the ‌iOS 15‌ and iPadOS 15 Apple Podcasts app, in what makes for a modest update for...
ios 15 notification summary

Just Install iOS 15? Here's Where to Start

Monday September 20, 2021 11:50 am PDT by
Apple today released the new iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 updates to all users, and there are dozens of new features to learn about. Some of these options must be toggled on or set up, so we've created a handy get started with iOS 15 guide that walks you through what you should do after installing the update. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Set Up Notification Summary If...
iOs 15 Photos Feature

iOS 15 Photos Guide: Features, Text Recognition, Changes

Friday July 2, 2021 1:04 pm PDT by
Apple made some major improvements to the Photos app in iOS 15, adding some long-awaited and requested features along with unique capabilities that enable you to do more with your images than ever. There's a new Memories feature that lets you relive your favorite moments, metadata info can be viewed and edited, Visual Lookup lets you identify plants, landmarks, and more, and with Live Text, ...
ios 15 spotlight search feature

iOS 15 Spotlight Improvements: Rich Results, Web Images, Photos Search, Lock Screen Access and More

Thursday August 12, 2021 2:05 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 15 is making several improvements to Spotlight, aka the universal search feature that can be accessed on the iPhone or iPad's Home Screen with a downward swipe. Spotlight is a one-stop resource for accessing everything you might want to find on an iOS device, and in iOS 15, it's better than ever. This guide highlights all of the new features that are coming to Spotlight with...
iOS 14 vs 15 feature 2

iOS 14 vs. iOS 15: Should You Update?

Friday September 24, 2021 7:42 am PDT by
For the first time, Apple is allowing users to continue using iOS 14, even after the launch of iOS 15. So should you update to iOS 15 or stick with iOS 14? In previous years, the main reason users needed to update their iPhone to a major new OS release was to continue getting important security updates. Apple would release security updates to older devices that could not upgrade to the...
new safari design options ios 15

iOS 15 Safari Guide: Tabs, Extensions, Search Bar, and Other Changes

Friday September 3, 2021 2:10 pm PDT by
Apple's Safari app has undergone a number of changes during the iOS 15 beta testing process. Apple started out with a radical new design that moved the address bar from the top of the app's interface and introduced a floating tab bar, but after a multitude of complaints, there were several redesigns that culminated in an option to undo the iOS 15 design entirely. Subscribe to the MacRumors ...
iOS 15 Later Features

All the iOS 15 Features You Won't Get Until Later

Tuesday September 21, 2021 2:56 pm PDT by
There are multiple features that Apple wasn't able to get ready for launch prior to the debut of iOS and iPadOS 15, which is not unusual. There are usually some iOS features that take a little more time to prepare for primetime, and Apple releases these features in iOS updates. Below, we've rounded up iOS 15 additions that weren't ready when iOS 15 launched and will be implemented in iOS 15...