For anyone prone to typos, sending messages to the wrong person, or firing off thoughts they may later regret, there is now some hope. Apple has delivered two of its most requested features: the ability to edit and unsend iMessages.
This week Apple has its latest operating system, iOS 16which lets users edit an iMessage up to five times within 15 minutes of sending it and unsend any message up to 2 minutes after it is sent. Users just need to tap and hold the sent message, then select “edit” or “undo send.”
But there are some caveats. For starters, it’s not exact a stealth attempt: recipients receive a warning that the message has not been sent or edited, but do not see the specific change.
Both users also need to send messages on Apple devices, so this won’t work for Android exchanges. This works best when the recipient is also using iOS 16 — otherwise they’ll receive an awkward timeline of the changes made. SMS messages cannot be unsent or edited either.
And the sender has to hope that the recipient didn’t preview the original message on the lock screen before it was edited or unsent.
(AAPL) is playing catch-up on platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Gmail, which also offer options to edit or delete messages after they’ve been sent. Twitter recently announced it tests the ability for users to edit tweets.
“With Twitter and Apple now also enabling this feature, it’s clear that this is a trend that many mobile users are demanding from these platforms,” said Lian Jye Su, research director at market research firm ABI Research. “Since the barrier to switching messaging platforms is near zero, rich and user-friendly features have become a critical competitive advantage.”
Although these are popular requests, editing and not sending messages can have an unintended impact on transparency and accountability, especially on public platforms, by removing or altering the written record. By making it clear that the message has been redacted, Apple can help maintain some transparency, according to Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC.
However, even with these new options, Lllamas recommends that people read what they send “because it can come back to haunt you … even if you edit it.”
iOS 16 is now available for any iPhone model dating back to the iPhone 8, which was released in 2017. Other notable new iMessage features include the ability to mark messages as unread so they’re easier to respond to later and the option to restore recently deleted messages for up to 30 days.