After a long wait, Apple has finally enabled Messages in iCloud with the release of iOS 11.4. This new feature allows automatic syncing of messages between different iOS and macOS devices. This means that if you delete any message in your chat transcript (iMessage, SMS or MMS) on your iPhone, it will be deleted from your iPad and Mac too. No need for deleting the same message individually from each device!
Messages in iCloud was announced at WWDC 2017. Originally available as part of iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 betas, it was removed from the final release. This happened again with subsequent iOS and macOS beta releases. Finally, just a week before WWDC 2018, the feature is now available to the general public, although, only with the iOS update. At the time of writing, macOS 10.13.5 is still nowhere to be seen.
The benefit of using this new feature is that if you delete a message, photo or video from a conversation in one of your iOS or macOS devices, it will be removed from all your devices. Along with message sync, it will also save storage space by keeping older messages and attachments in iCloud, instead of local device storage. However, this comes at a cost of iCloud storage. If you do not have sufficient cloud storage available, you might not be able to use this feature.
Another advantage of enabling Messages sync is that when you login to a new iOS device or Mac, you will get all your chat history and attachments on that device. Before iOS 11.4, you had to start fresh from any every new device you login on. This meant that you ended up with different chat histories on different devices, instead of the same version on all of them. Note that Message in iCloud works with both iMessage and SMS/text messages. If you have text message forwarding enabled between your iPhone and other iOS devices or Mac, you can also sync text messages and delete them just as you can with iMessages.
Enable Messages in iCloud in iOS
To use this feature, you need the following:
- iOS 11.4 or above
- Sufficient storage in your iCloud account to backup data
- Two-factor authentication enabled
Here’s what to do next:
- Navigate to Settings > Apple ID
- Tap on iCloud
- Enable the toggle next to Messages. If you are asked to enable two-factor authentication, please do so first.
Depending on the amount of data you have in your Messages, it might take a while for the first sync to complete. Once first sync is complete, backups should be faster later onwards. You can see the progress when you open the Messages app. A message with a progress bar will appear at the bottom of the screen.
A lot of users have shared that they don’t see the status bar. It might be related to users who already had Messages backup in iCloud, because they used previous beta versions of iOS.
With iOS 11.4, Apple has also released AirPlay 2 with HomePod stereo pairing and multiroom audio. The release also includes a number of bug fixes for Safari, Health App, Messages and more.