iOS 14 iMessage: Slack-like mentions, message retracting, typing indicators in group chats, more

Apple is reportedly testing several new features for its iMessage system that may or may not be introduced as part of the upcoming iOS 14 software update.

According to info obtained by MacRumors, the new features being tested internally include:

  • Mentions: A Slack-like mentions system for tagging other contacts (i.e. @Steve) with contact suggestions. “This would be particularly useful in busy group chat conversations as it would be possible to enable the Hide Alerts setting and only receive push notifications when you are mentioned directly,” MacRumors speculates.
  • Retracting: You might be able to delete a message for both you and the recipient for an unspecified period of time after sending it. “Fine print visible to both the sender and recipients would indicate that a message has been retracted,” the publication notes.
  • Typing indicators in group chats: These exist in individual chats, but iOS 14 should enable typing indicators when chatting with multiple participants in a group chat.
  • Tidbits: Other features include marking the last message of a conversation as unread after opening it and an expansion of the “/me” command for sharing status updates.

It’s unclear whether these features would extend to Messages for Mac, which lacks many of the features found in the iOS edition, things such as iMessage apps, fullscreen effects, etc.

Theoretically, Apple could easily bring Messages for Mac on par with its iOS counterpart if it wanted to by using its own Catalyst system to port the iOS version to macOS. Indeed, Irish iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith last year uncovered evidence in macOS Catalina code suggest that a Catalyst-based version of Messages for Mac could be on the way.

Last but not least, these rumored new iMessage features should be part of the upcoming iOS 14 software update unless Apple postpones them until a later software update.

Apple should preview the upcoming iOS 14, macOC 10.16, watchOS 7 and tvOS 14 updates at its Worldwide Developers Conference that should take place this summer. However, it’s looking increasingly likely that a physical gathering in San Jose could be cancelled in favor of virtual meetings and presentations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.