How to Build iMessage Stickers using Adhesives

Happy Anniversary, Magic City Stickers!! It’s been one year since we released our iMessage sticker pack to the App Store. When iOS 10 was released in 2016, we saw a unique opportunity to use technology to help raise money and awareness for the green space needs in Birmingham while also supporting local businesses. How? A corporate contribution is required to feature a business in Magic City Stickers, and 100% of the proceeds are donated equally to Red Mountain Park, Railroad Park, Ruffner Mountain, and Vulcan Park & Museum (new to our list!).

While our vision for this app hasn’t changed, we did see some great changes with the release of iOS 11 in 2017. Now it’s easier than ever to use iMessage apps and a lot of brands are on board (Starbucks, Dropbox, Google Maps, to name a few). To celebrate this milestone, we’ll explore how to manage and build iMessage stickers using Adhesives, the platform our team built. 

iMessage Apps and Stickers

iMessage apps give you quick access to some features of regular apps (if those apps have added iMessage support). For instance, if you have the Dropbox app, you can share a recent file from within an iMessage.

Stickers, or Sticker Packs, are a type of app specifically for iMessage use. You create your Sticker Packs with icons, logos, emojis, and any other image (or animation) you can think of that users can then use in the iMessage conversations. Think of this as the new emoji that allows your users to express themselves as well as allows you to showcase your creative work to the world.

Is there an easy way to build iMessage Stickers?

Developing an iMessage app or Sticker Pack is very similar to developing a full-fledged iOS application. You still need a Mac, Xcode, and some Swift development chops. Each Sticker you create will be added to this Sticker Pack app and deployed to the iOS App Store just like any other app. And with each additional Sticker, you’ll need to follow the process once again.

This has added a bit of a barrier to entry for many to create iMessage apps. We knew this process could become more streamlined with a content management system. We would need a platform that allowed us to create new packs, add or delete to existing packs, reorder and organize packs in one convenient location. When we couldn’t find a platform that checked all the boxes, we decided to build Adhesives!!

Adhesives for iMessage Stickers

Airship built Adhesives to be our content management application and app deployment tool for iMessage Stickers. We wanted the ability to modify the sticker pack without resubmitting to the App Store for approval or requiring users to update their app (hello, holiday stickers!). Thankfully, our team is very familiar with the app deployment process. After an implementation of the initial Sticker Pack app, the user can take control of managing the sticker pack using Adhesives without having to re-deploy.

Some of the technology we used to build Adhesives included the following:

  • Heroku
  • Cocoapods
  • Elixir/Phoenix
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Swift
  • React

We created Adhesives with a folder structure in mind and stuck with the sticker theme. The Pack is what would go into the App Store and what would be available to end users. A Sheet includes all the logos we’d possibly use and switch out – think holidays, conferences, special events, etc.  And the Sticker itself would be the image or logo.

Using Airship's Adhesives to build iMessage Stickers

Adding Stickers to New Sheets

Once logged in, the user will see all of the Sticker Packs they manage. For our example, we see the Good People Brewing Company’s Sticker Pack and our own Magic City Sticker Pack. The Packs are the final product seen in the App Store. Once your Sticker Pack completes the initial implementation phase where Airship deploys it to Apple, then it’s all managed by you!

Use Sheets within Adhesives to organize your iMessage Stickers

Add or Modify a Sticker

To begin adding or modifying a sticker, select Sheets. This is where your individual Stickers will live and where you can organize them category. The categories can be whatever works best for you, such as holidays, locations, brands, etc.

Edit iMessage stickers within Sticker Pack Sheets on Adhesives

Next, you’ll select the Sheet where you’d like to add or edit a Sticker. Upload a new sticker by clicking Manage Sheet and then select and upload your image file. Delete an existing sticker by clicking the X icon on the sticker (you’ll be prompted to confirm delete). Modify or replace an existing sticker by clicking on the sticker name.

Adding or editing single Sticker in Adhesives - Learn to build iMessage Stickers with Airship

Deploying New Sticker to Sticker Pack

The final step of adding your new image to the Sticker Pack is easy! Select the Packs option at the top and then click on the Sticker Pack you’d like to edit. You’ll see a list of available stickers that are not currently in the selected Sticker Pack on the left, organized by Sheet. Simply drag and drop which sticker you’d like to add into the Sticker Pack and then arrange where you’d like it to appear from within the app.

Select which sticker you'd like to deploy immediately to the App Store within Airship's Adhesives platform

Once added, the changes are deployed immediately – no need to update your app. The new sticker is available immediately!!

Conclusion

In the process of building a better solution for ourselves, we saw an opportunity for companies. Specifically, companies without development teams that wanted to avoid ongoing development costs. Adhesives was a great solution for them to simply manage their content and focus on acquiring users.

If you’re interested in learning more about using Adhesives to create an iMessage Sticker Pack for your business or if you’d like to join the Magic City Stickers pack, drop us a line here!