iOS 16 is packed with major interface and feature changes, but only one will potentially alter the course of human communication: the ability to unsend, unread, and most importantly, edit sent messages.

Since we've had iPhones and Messages, we've shared countless little text messages full of bugs, embarrassing typos, and hilarious autocorrects. Message errors are so prevalent that it's part of our culture. There are entire websites (opens in a new tab) devoted, for example, to cataloging particularly egregious autocorrects, or, as they're more commonly known, "Damn, autocorrect."

The latter refers to Apple's own autocomplete system, changing the words you wanted or "correcting" your typos into something stupid or often embarrassing.

But even without AutoCorrect errors, there are:

  • drunk texts
  • angry texts
  • Incomplete texts sent too soon
  • Texting the wrong people

I have experience in the latter category, having once texted a business contact instead of my wife to ask for more toilet paper.

We have all been there.

iOS 16, which Apple unveiled during its WWDC 2022 keynote on Monday, has a chance to erase all of that with three simple features, one of which will either be a blessing or a new controversy.

Unsend is of course a big problem. Text that sounded good in his head, but seems dismissive, angry, or insensitive, could disappear and the recipient may never see it.

Messages are edited, not sent or read. #WWDC22 26, 2022

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Being able to convert read text to unread text also has its advantages. Your friend asks you to keep an eye on your dog and, knowing that you have read the message, he waits for your response. Instead of processing, you make the message unread and hope that your friend will ask someone else, even though they can still see that you are reading the message.

However, the most important thing is to edit the texts after sending them. You can correct a misspelled name, (*16*) the part of the post that was perhaps too honest or personal, or just correct that embarrassing typo or autocorrect.

Goodbye funny message, hello rational text conversations.

The ability to edit a conversation recording is not just about (*16*) textual errors. Some may use it to edit the record, insisting that "that thing" was never sent to them, even though the edited messages say they have been edited. The ability to wipe the slate clean, knowing you can quickly (*16*) all traces of that offending text, shouldn't be a license to say whatever you want.

The big caveat here is that all of these options are only available for 15 minutes. After that, your mistakes are frozen in time and the discomfort is permanent.

Also, this is an Apple iOS 16 Messages feature, not a Global SMS feature. Bugs and bad text messages sent to your Android friends and their green text boxes will remain permanent.

For iPhone users, who will be upgrading to iOS 16 this fall, their text communications are about to experience a drastic change. They might even start aggressively editing text for those first 15 minutes as some kind of competition, turning the whole thing into a new kind of game.

It won't have the same kind of comedic punch as Damn You Autocorrect, but it could be a fun new kind of texting.

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