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Microsoft's new iOS 10 iMessage App "Who's In" lets groups collaborate on plans

Microsoft is expanding its presence on Apple's iOS 10 messaging platform with a new iMessage App designed to allow groups to search for movies, food, events and other entertainment options and vote on what to do.




Who's In on iMessage Apps



Over the past few years, Microsoft's has decisively backed Apple's iOS as a mobile platform for its software, ranging from games to creative apps to Office productivity titles. The company has now released a "Who's In" title exclusive to the iMessage Apps Store (hinted at by its oval app icon).

It's not the company's first iMessage App. Microsoft previously released iMessage Apps for OneDrive (allowing users to share documents and photos from its cloud storage service in conversations), Bing (for searching for images, products and nearby businesses within a chat) and #MovieDate (an app oriented toward inviting a date to a movie using stickers).

Who's In appears to mix some of the elements of Bing search with #MovieDate's group planning. It actually uses Microsoft's Bing to look up nearby restaurants, movie times, events and attractions, as suggested by sources including Yelp and Trip Advisor.

Users can also create their own event, specifying a time and location, and then invite members in their iMessage group chat. Everyone in the chat can opt in or out, or suggest alternative plans.

The new app is an expanded endorsement of Apple's iMessages chat "micro-platform" introduced last summer as a new feature of iOS 10. Apple has made it relatively easy to customize parts of iOS apps for use within iMessage. Fandango offers its own group chat app for movie planning, while OpenTable, Yelp and Dine do the same for food outings.

Fancy, Jet, Nordstrom, Target and Zappos all offer iMessage-enabled shopping with friends, while many developers have brought turn-based games to iMessage (including Boggle, Words with Friends and GamePigeon, a mini-arcade of turn-based, in-chat apps). A recent report by Sensor Tower noted that 25.9 percent of the 5,000 iMessage Apps currently available are games.



One of the most popular aspects of the new iOS 10 Messages App Store is Stickers, which enable anyone to publish artwork for sale (or for free), allowing chat users to stick graphics or animations into the conversation. Apple recently began promoting the feature with a new "Sticker Fight" ad spot.

Microsoft also has a Stickers app for iMessage featuring images from its Halo gaming franchise, as well as a Yammer title for its enterprise social network that enables users to "communicate with a sticker pack for work."