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Apple releases animated emoji sticker packs for iOS 10 Messages

As promised, Apple on Friday released the first official animated sticker packs for use with iOS 10 Messages, making the GIF-like graphics available to developers through iTunes.

Available to users currently running Apple's latest iOS 10 beta, the sticker packs made available through iTunes Preview include Smileys, Hearts, Hands and Classic Mac. Japanese website Mac Otakara spotted the release earlier today.

In their current form, stickers in Smileys, Hearts and Hands packs are carryovers from watchOS animated emojis, while Classic Mac features a batch of original Macintosh icons created by graphic designer Susan Kare.

Once installed, stickers can be accessed in the Messages app drawer and incorporated into a conversation with a tap. Alternatively, users can "peel" and place stickers around chat bubbles, on images or even double up on other stickers.

Announced onstage at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, animated stickers are a subclass of iMessage App, or bite-sized apps created using the new Messages API. Apple is opening its Messages platform up to developers for the first time with iOS 10, allowing third-party add-ons and deep integration that goes far beyond stickers. In a demonstration at WWDC, for example, iMessage Apps were shown ordering food and completing Square payments.

Apple's sticker packs are expected to join original creations from outside developers when the iMessage App Store launches this fall.

To see animated stickers in action, check out AppleInsider's video preview of Messages in iOS 10. For more on Apple's next-generation mobile operating system, make sure to follow our Inside iOS 10 article series.