Apple introduced a ton of new social features in Messages for iPhone and iPad in iOS 10, and some of them can make a Valentine’s Day message more original and personal. Handwritten notes, Digital Touch kisses and heartbeats, and the Love screen effect are all charming ways to put a bit more care into your messages than usual. Here’s how:

iOS 10 is required for Digital Touch and handwriting in Messages on iPhone and iPad, and iOS 10.2 is required for the Love screen effect so you need to be running the latest software updates for everything to work. Below we’ll look at how this works on iPhone, and the steps are very similar on iPad as well.

Start by creating a new iMessage with or replying to the person you want to message. From the conversation view, you’ll find a boxed icon with a white arrow within that reveals the Camera shortcut, Digital Touch, and iMessage app drawer.

The middle option with the heart and two fingers is the Digital Touch option where you can send virtual kisses, your heartbeat, and ephemeral sketches. The center of this screen includes a solid black box where you can tap with different finger gestures and sketch out disappearing messages. You can expand the surface area by tapping the up arrow on the bottom right.


When you tap the up arrow to expand the surface area, Digital Touch also presents an explainer sheet in detail that tells you which gestures do what actions.  For example, you can send a kiss animation if you tap the surface area with two fingers. Sending a heartbeat is done by tapping and holding down two fingers. These messages animate then disappear after being sent and viewed unless either user taps the Keep button to save it.


If you wear an Apple Watch, the heartbeat will vary in speed based on your recent heart rate reading too so keep that in mind. You can also send ephemeral sketches with Digital Touch which lets you be more creative with color and design.

Just trace your finger over the surface area to draw. You can change colors from the color picker on the left above the camera icon. Each drawing can include multiple colors too.


Digital Touch sketches include color and disappear after viewed unless kept. You can send handwritten messages if you prefer to write with black ink and the message is kept by default. Either method will animate the message to the recipient just as you drew it.

Turn the iPhone to landscape orientation to reveal the sketch button on the bottom right corner of the keyboard. You may automatically see the handwriting surface area (in which case you can tap the keyboard icon in the bottom right corner to toggle modes). From here, simply write out what you want to say with your finger and tap done to save it to send off.


Simply tap the blue circle with the white arrow to send your handwritten message to the recipient, or you can optionally add a Love screen effect here when back in portrait orientation. Screen effects can be applied to regular messages with text or even messages with stickers or handwritten notes.

Long press or firmly press (on newer iPhones) to access the ‘Send with effect’ menu, then tap the ‘Screen’ option at the top. Balloons will be the first option. Swipe over two times to access the Love effect, then tap the blue send button to share your message with the animating reflective heart balloon.


Handwritten notes can be especially impressive when created on the iPad using Apple Pencil, but even a quick sketched note with your finger on your iPhone can be charming.

You can also use sticker packs including Apple’s Smileys pack and plenty of options on the App Store to get in the Valentine’s Day spirit. Check out Jeff’s giant in-depth look at how to use all the iOS 10 Messages features for more.

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.