Apple launched iOS 12 in Sept 2018, and the Messages app received a fair bit of attention. Four new Animoji have been added, for example, and it's now possible to create your own custom Animoji called Memoji. In this article, however, we're going to look at the new camera effects and fun filters that you can access from within Messages, and how to use these to liven up your conversations.

(Actually a lot of the effects aren't new, strictly speaking - they were previously available in the Clips app.)

Adding effects

Open the Messages app, and either start a new message or open an existing thread. Tap the camera icon to the left of the message field to open the camera.

You'll notice a new icon: a five-pointed star to the left of the shutter button. Tap this to open the effects strip (and automatically switch to selfie mode, if you're not in it already).

Swipe left and right to see some of the stuff you can apply to your photo. Note that you can apply more than one kind of effect - a sticker pack and an Animoji, for example - to the same photo.

Text (the blue letters) and Shapes (the red scribble) are fairly self-explanatory, and you'll also see a range of app-specific sticker and effect packages depending on what you've installed. But we're going to look first at Filters. Tap the Filters icon: the overlapping red, green and blue circles.

How to use camera filters in Messages: Effects


The filters are also arranged in a strip, with Original (no filter) on the left. Swipe through to see the other options. There's comic book, watercolour, mono options, noir, and lots more. Make your selection (tap the X to cancel) and then shoot the photo as normal, and send off your message.


If you'd like to apply a sticker to your photo, go back to the effects strip and select a sticker pack. The packs available will depend on the apps you've installed. (The pack demonstrated in the WWDC keynote was Sago Mini; we're going to use the pack that came with the free iPhone game Leap Day.)

Select and tap a sticker and it will appear in the viewfinder; you can swipe to move it the desired position, and use pinch and unpinch to change its size. The sticker's position will be linked to your position in the selfie, so as you move around the sticker will move too, keeping in the same position on your head, say.

When you're finished, tap Done and take the photo as normal.

How to use camera filters in Messages on iPhone: Stickers


The traditional way to use Animoji (or Memoji) is to create and send standalone 10-second clips, but iOS 12 allows you to use them like stickers.

From the effects strip in the Messages camera, select Animoji - it's the monkey icon. A new strip will pop up showing all of the characters available in your installed version of iOS, along with any Memoji you've created and saved. Tap any one of these and it will automatically be superimposed on your head (again, assuming we're in the selfie mode).

How to use camera filters in Messages on iPhone: Animoji

Strike a pose and hit the shutter button when you're ready. From the next screen you can apply further effects and/or markup, or choose to retake it. Tap the blue arrow to send it if you're happy.

Using filters in FaceTime

This is a subject for another time, really, but we will just briefly add that the filters and effects discussed above can also be applied in real time to FaceTime. Activate the Comic Book filter, for instance, and the video tile the other user(s) see of you will have that effect applied for as long as you keep it switched on.