Apple needs to reconsider the 15 minute window to edit or unsend a message in iOS 16

Ios 14 Messages Groups Inline Replies Mentions
Ios 14 Messages Groups Inline Replies Mentions (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2022 has now come and gone. With it, we saw the next major updates for software across all of Apple's devices: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. We even got some hardware announcements with the new M2 MacBook Air and the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro, though it's a mystery why the latter is still around, honestly.

One of the major new features in iOS 16 is the fact that we can now edit and unsend messages. Oh, and we can also mark entire conversations as unread, you know, to help remind us to respond when we actually have time. However, it seems that Apple has given the edit and unsend feature an overly generous time frame of 15 minutes after sending to make a change. Honestly, I think that is just way too long.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas. While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

Apple ironically beat Twitter to the punch

One of the biggest feature requests from users (including myself) on Twitter has been an edit button. I often wish for an edit button because I usually see a stupid typo I made in a tweet after I already sent it out, and I end up having to delete it and tweet again. But of course, this is the internet age, where many people see such a tweet and can screenshot it if they're fast enough. The internet remembers all — even if you delete (or edit).

The problem with editing a tweet would be the fact that someone who said something particularly offensive would be able to edit it later with something completely different than what was originally said. But again, on Twitter, there can be dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of eyes on a particular tweet, and the chances are high that someone could take a screenshot before it was altered.

In Messages, however, it's very different. Usually, you send a message to a single person (unless all you do is group text all day long). If a message is sent to one individual, and the original message ends up being edited to something completely different, then there would be no evidence of what the original message said. If there's any animosity between the two people, the first message could have been very damning, but if it's edited, the recipient wouldn't be able to find out what it said before the edit. The same can be said if the message was completely unsent. Of course, this probably won't be an issue if the recipient is already on their favorite iPhone and check messages immediately. Still, if they're unable to get to it right away, the sender has an incredibly large window to make changes.

Changes need to be made to the Messages' edit and unsend feature in iOS 16

Ios 16 Messages Undo Send

Ios 16 Messages Undo Send (Image credit: Apple)

Realistically, 15 minutes is a very long time when it comes to communication, and messages can be twisted and completely rewritten in that amount of time.

At the moment, with the first beta, edited messages will say "Edited" underneath the message, like the "Delivered" or "Read" indicator. However, there is no way to read what the original message said, unless the recipient is on a previous version of iOS, as the edit feature is not supported. If a message is "unsent," those on iOS 16 will see a message indicating that a message was rescinded. Again, if the recipient is on iOS 15 or earlier, the message will still be there.

While this is a feature that I probably will often use to correct all of my dumb typos due to typing too fast, there needs to be some changes.

For one, the 15-minute window should really be reduced — that is an awfully long time. I think maybe a maximum of five minutes should suffice. That's enough time to catch any typos or add in details that you forgot.

I also think that the original message should still be viewable somehow. Could you imagine if there were messages between two people that ended up in a court battle? There would be no record of the original unless the person remembered to take a screenshot, though that could also be digitally altered.

This is all subject to change

We are still very much in the early stages of the betas, but this is a change that I hope Apple seriously reconsiders. Or even just give us the option to change the edit/unsend time frame to something less. I'm sure there are some people who would be fine with 15 minutes, but I definitely would prefer less. After all, I usually know within the first few seconds after I send a message if I need to edit it.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.