One of our favorite features of iOS 16 is the ability to edit and delete iMessages. Just long-press on a message and you can choose to edit or unsend it (we’ll show you how to edit and undo messages here). But proponents have expressed concern that the system could be abused by bad actors. Texting abuse is common among people in abusive relationships, and the ability to alter or hide evidence is worrisome.
While Apple hasn’t publicly addressed these concerns, some of the system changes in beta 4 for iOS 16 developers seem to target them specifically. You used to have 15 minutes to edit or undo a message, and edited messages would only show an “edited” tag to the recipient. The new rules are as follows:
- You only have two minutes to undo a message.
- You still have 15 minutes to edit a post, but you can edit it up to five times.
- Either party can tap the “Edited” label to see a list of past edits.
These changes significantly reduce an abusive partner or scammer’s ability to use the system for damage. A two minute window to delete an iMessage is still plenty of time to catch that “oops, I sent this to the wrong person” or “I really shouldn’t be responding and just let it go”, but significantly reduces the ability to message someone and know they will see it before you lose all traces of it. Logging (and restricting) edits keeps a chain of evidence for those who may need it in the future.
Of course, this feature still only applies to iMessages (blue bubbles). Ordinary text messages (green bubbles) cannot be edited or deleted.