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iMessage backlash – Apple restricts new editing functions

Apple is making some big (and some would say overdue) changes to its Messages app with its upcoming iOS 16 update. Chief among them is the ability to edit or delete an iMessage after you send it.

We’ve been testing the feature using the iOS 16 beta, ahead of its full public release this Fall. Simply long-press the message and choose Undo Send or Edit from the pop-up menu. These changes aren’t just on your device: everyone involved in the chat thread will see your edits. (Provided they also have iOS 16, that is.)

However, despite these new features being relatively popular, there’s a sizeable backlash too from those worried about how they may be used. Considering Apple’s push for digital safety from abusive partners and its anti-scam measures, the ability to change or remove a message after the fact could open up new avenues for abuse.

Apple’s response has been to tighten the restrictions, as seen in the latest beta release. That means reducing the window of opportunity for “un-sending” a message to just two minutes, down from the 15 minutes originally suggested. Edits can still be made for 15 minutes, but you’ll be limited to just five changes and each edit will be logged for all parties to see.

This will leave a digital paper trail and make it more difficult for scammers or abusers to remove evidence of messages or change the history of a conversation. We’ll see whether these adjustments are successful in the real world when iOS 16 is released in September.