According to new information that has leaked into the public domain, Cupertino-based Apple Inc. is looking to expand the capabilities of its iMessage platform by testing new features internally.
If successful and approved, any new additions to the messaging platform could be ready for a September 2020 release alongside iOS/iPadOS 14.
Apple’s iMessage platform was heralded as a huge success when it was first launched in 2011. However, in the time that has followed, a number of messaging apps have risen to global prominence and have a much more mature set of features. iMessage works extremely well across iOS and macOS and multiple device types but it does feel like it has stagnated in terms of features and functionality.
If the reports are accurate, Apple is looking to bring at least some parity with other platforms by testing things like Slack-esque @ mentions that would allow an iMessage user to tag another user in the conversation. Apps like Slack and WhatsApp already have this, making it extremely easy to get the attention of a single person in a packed group conversation. This would also enable users to disable notifications for a full group chat but only see things that are relevant to them when they are tagged.
Like WhatsApp, iMessage could also soon allow a user to “retract” a message, or to coin the popular vernacular for this sort of thing; delete something they no longer want the recipient to see. All parties in the conversation would be informed that something had been deleted. Currently, it’s unclear if there would be a time-based limitation on this feature or if a user could delete whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, regardless of how long it has been in the message thread.
Additionally, iMessage is said to be about to benefit from things like typing indicators in group chat situations to match what’s already in the 1-2-1 messages, and being able to mark the last message in a thread as unread once it has already been opened.
As is always the case, this is very much a “let’s see what happens” type of situation. On one hand, iMessage deserves, and actually needs, an overhaul in terms of features. It feels dated and behind the competition. But as with anything, there is no guarantee if the features will come or, more importantly, when they will come.
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