iOS 14: Everything new in the Messages app

In many ways, Messages is the most important app on the iPhone. Obviously, sending and receiving texts is one of the most popular uses for smartphones, and it is a necessary part of many two-factor authentication setups. But iMessage—the blue-bubble internet messaging platform introduced in iOS 5—is a critical part of the Apple ecosystem. It solved a lot of the problems with texting at a critical time, and it is important that Apple continues to make the “blue bubble” as meaningful as possible.

With each new release of iOS, Apple makes some improvements to Messages. This year, iOS 14 will bring several welcome new features that recognizes the way people use it today. The focus is on organizing an increasingly big list of messages, and more clearly carrying on group conversations. When you upgrade to iOS 14 this fall (or participated in the iOS 14 beta) these are the features you’ll find.

Better message filtering

In iOS 13, you can filter Messages from unknown senders by going to Settings > Messages and turning on Filter Unknown Senders. This will put iMessages received from people who aren’t in your contacts into a separate tab and stops you from getting notifications from them. Any SMS message or iMessage from someone in your contacts will go into a separate tab and still generate messages.

With iOS 14, Apple improves both the logic and the interface for this. With Filter Unknown Senders enabled, you will see a Filters selection in the upper left corner of the Messages screen. Tap that and you can switch between three views: All Messages, Known Senders, and Unknown Senders.

ios14 messages filtering IDG

Filtering messages is smarter, and there are no tabs to get in your way.

Known Senders is a list of both iMessages and SMS messages from people in your Contacts, as well as those from numbers you have recently called or sent the first text to. You don’t need to add the plumber to your contacts if you called them and then got a text later on.

Unknown Senders includes everything else, including all those SMS verification codes and spam texts.

Pinned conversations

We get so many messages these days that the conversations with people we most want to reach are often buried several screens down. Rather than hunting for your most important conversations, you can pin them.

ios14 messages pinned IDG

Pin conversations so you don’t have to to scrolling to find the ones you use most.

You can swipe a conversation to the right to pin it, or long-press and choose the Pin option. You can pin up to nine conversations, and they’ll appear in circles at the top of your screen. Long-press one to unpin it.