My Frivolous Apple Wish: Let Me and My Friends Leave Better Voice Messages
If only there were a way for a trillion-dollar tech company to improve this experience
I have group chats with different groups of friends (brag!). There’s one with my two best friends; another with two friends I introduced to each other right before the pandemic, thereby unintentionally creating a triad bonded to each other through whatever happened in 2020 and everything after; one with my family; one with my skeeball team, The Bourgeoiskee, which went from a group of people I personally knew who all wanted to play skeeball together to a veritable group of friends; one for a small group of friends who were fans of a recently shuttered but beloved nearby Greek restaurant; another with my old coworkers. Sometimes I’ll return to my phone after a prolonged set of meetings to discover I’ve somehow missed 122 collective messages, and sometimes I miss nothing.
Sometimes words are too much work, though, and you’d rather leave a voice message. And then other people respond with their own voice messages. I refer to this act of listening to a series of your friends’ back-to-back, occasionally related voice messages as Friend Podcast. But Apple, which created the functionality to upload and listen to your friends’ voice messages, has seemingly abandoned making any updates to its voice messaging feature, which generally has terrible UX, after shipping it years ago. So here is my proposal for Tim Apple and whoever else is in charge of voice-related stuff over there in Cupertino: Fix your shit.
For those unfamiliar with voice messaging features in iMessage, they basically let users record themselves speaking and then send the recording through iMessage, replacing text messages with audio playback. It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s also something being done better and seemingly with more virality and user adoption on other platforms like WeChat, or Meta’s WhatsApp and Messenger.
By comparison, iMessage lacks any visible controls to rewind audio clips sent to you. If someone sends you a lengthy clip, you might be halfway through listening when you realized you missed something they said. Right now, when you miss part of a message or want to rewind, your only option is holding down on the voice note in the conversation thread and opening it in a more expanded view, whereby you are taken back to the start of the voice note so you can try guessing…