Apple reworking Messages and bringing Shortcuts to the Mac

Apple is reportedly reworking the Messages app on macOS and introducing Siri Shortcuts in a future macOS 10.15 Catalina release, according to developers with beta access.

As part of its Project Catalyst program, Apple is reportedly reworking Messages to be more in line with its iOS variant, introducing features such as iMessage Effects on the Mac for the first time, allowing users to express themselves in new ways when chatting on the Mac.

Developer Steve Troughton-Smith, who has previously leaked a number of new features coming to iOS and macOS, spotted new code that includes a framework for Siri Shortcuts and a Catalyst version of the Messages app in the latest macOS Catalina beta 2.

“There is a whole lot of evidence in Catalina that they’re working on a full, Catalyst version of Messages, much like Shortcuts for Mac. So, just like Shortcuts, I decided to cut to the chase and do it myself by calling the system frameworks,” he said on Twitter.

“Messages and Shortcuts could be the halo Catalyst apps we’re waiting for, but either they’re not ready, or they’re being left for a later version of macOS. Let’s hope they arrive by the time Catalina is released!”

“A surprising amount of the UIKit Messages app works on macOS — of course, plenty does not [yet]. As an option in its back pocket, Messages (and the iMessage App Store ecosystem) has gotta be a very appealing app for Apple to use Catalyst for.”

The UIKit-powered Messages app works well on macOS minus a few bugs, and it’s believed the app has been ported over from iOS rather than rebuilt from the ground up.

“And, just for reference: this isn’t a ‘marzipanified’ version of the Messages app from the iOS Simulator. This is the ‘native’ Catalyst UI coming from the macOS 10.15 system frameworks. Just like Shortcuts, it’s all there, and mostly works if you know how to talk to it,” said Troughton-Smith when he announced the new leak.

Apple didn’t discuss the new Messages app at this year’s WWDC, so it might be that it will be included in a later macOS 10.15 release, or included in September’s official release when the software is expected to go live to the public as a free update.

Siri Shortcuts, on the other hand, was widely reported to be included in macOS 10.15 was absent from the keynote presentation, so perhaps this feature will be rushed through and introduced before the software goes on general release?

“If you compare this Catalyst version of Messages w/ what’s in iOS 13, you’ll see the UI layout is pretty different. In fact, it’s modeled to look way more like the macOS version. I’m not convinced this work was done purely to present the ‘share in Messages’ sheet in UIKit apps,” Steve added in his analysis.

Whatever happens, we know for sure that macOS Catalina is one of Apple’s biggest updates to macOS in many years, introducing a boat-load of new features and functionality designed to elevate the macOS experience and unify the software with iOS.

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Everything Apple, every day. This post was written by an AppleMagazine newsroom writer.