iMessage has been something of a revelation for Apple. Not only is it a sleek and reliable messaging platform, it’s also proven to be something that will keep people in the Apple ecosystem as they don’t want to lose it. But, as good as it is, there’s always room for improvement. With this in mind we think taking the following features from the more popular WhatsApp would help iMessage stay on top form.
One of the newest features WhatsApp has introduced is being able to hide your locked chats away from your normal folders and have them only appear when you enter your password. Not only does this mean you can stop people accessing certain conversations if they get hold of your phone, the best part is they simply won’t know they’re there.
At the moment, you can’t password protect conversations on iMessage, let alone make the folder disappear. The only option is to use a clumsy ScreenTime hack to prevent access to iMessage, but that locks the whole app. As Apple likes to go on about its privacy and security prowess, adding this feature to iMessages would seem an obvious next step.
Another helpful feature on WhatsApp is broadcast lists. These work by creating a list of people, which can then be sent the same message without needing to repeat it several times. Ah, but that’s just like Group iMessage, you might say. Well, it’s not.
With Group iMessage, the clue’s in the name as anything you send is placed in the group chat for all the recipients. Broadcasts are different, as the message you send appears in each person’s own personal chat with you, not in a group. So, it’s just like sending multiple private messages to lots of people, rather than carrying on a group conversation.
This is a simple but really helpful little feature that has been on WhatsApp for years. When you open the app and look up a contact, you’re told the last time the person was active on the service. It’s basic, but is great for letting you know if someone is around or hasn’t opened WhatsApp for a while and isn’t just airing you while they read other people’s message (or, in a worst case scenario, they are).
While iMesssage lets you know when someone has seen your messages and shows their current status (ie, if they’re using the app), there’s no way to see the last time they were active. This should be an easy fix, but for some reason Apple has remained reluctant to include it on the platform. It did introduce the Check In feature in iOS 17, which automatically lets people know when you’ve reached a particular destination, but that’s quite a different feature.
SnapChat may have been the one to pioneer disappearing messages, as pretty much its whole identity is based on this principle, but WhatsApp has already adopted the feature into its app as well. The idea is simple, you specify how long you want the messages to remain available (24 hours, 7 days or 90 days), then anything you send will be automatically deleted from the recipients chat when the time elapses.
This means that you retain some control over the messages, even after you’ve sent them, which again is another privacy feature that would be welcome in iMessage.
You can auto-delete messages on iMessage, but this doesn’t take them from other people’s feeds, just your own, whereas the WhatsApp one does.
Export chat to email
If you want to preserve your conversations, even when away from WhatsApp, then the ability to export it to a .txt file that’s sent to you in an email is a helpful backup option. This way, you will have a record of what was said and to whom, but won’t need the app to read the document.
It’s kind of possible on iMessage, but requires a Mac or PC and some third-party software. We think that including an export function for chat histories would be something that plenty of people would like, although Apple might want to keep this off iMessage, as it would make leaving the service less dramatic for those who’ve been in its walled garden for many years. It has nothing to worry about though, as these five features would make iMessage just as good as WhatsApp, plus there’s plenty of other things that it can do that would mean people keep buying iPhones for years to come.