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Apple is plotting a huge, and welcome, change to iMessage

Apple is working on a new iMessage feature that would enable users to edit messages after they’ve been sent.

Reports have uncovered a patent filed late last year, which would give users an edit option (alongside the ability to copy or delete) after long pressing a message. Potentially, this could mean a change coming within iOS 14, due to be previewed this summer.

Within the patent application (via 9to5Mac), filed in December, explains how the tool would help users avoid the need to resend messages.

Apple writes: “There is a need for electronic devices with improved methods and interfaces for editing sent messages. Such methods and interfaces may complement or replace conventional methods for editing sent messages. Such methods and interfaces reduce the number, extent, and/or the nature of the inputs from a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface.”

Going by the mocked-up images provided by Apple, users will see an “Edited” notification beneath the message, after the action has been carried out. Long pressing would now reveal the ability to Show Edits, but it’s not clear whether that feature would be available to all participants in the conversation, or just the sender.

Two iPhone sketches explaining iMessage edits feature

If everyone can see, then the feature would be useful for correcting typos. However, it would probably make matters worse if the sender was trying to correct poorly-chosen words within the edit.

Either way, the ability to edit messages is a long desired feature for users of many apps and social media platforms. WhatsApp allows for the deletion of messages, albeit with a notification that the message has been deleted. It does not allow message editing. Twitter has also long resisted pressure to add the ability to edit tweets, but Facebook allows users amend comments or status updates.

How Apple handles this will be interesting, if it chooses to do so at all. Many of the company’s patent filings never make it into consumer products.

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