Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Case for “Mark as Unread” in Messages

Matthew Bischoff:

But the most popular messaging app on iOS, Messages, has never implemented “Mark as Unread” even though users have been clamoring for it for years and it’s been rumored that they tested it. What’s even wilder is that iMessage doesn’t have any other in-app way for the user to signal that they need to return to a message in order to respond to it. The only gesture toward anything like this is an obscure Siri integration.

Messages routinely get forgotten and go unanswered. The missing “Mark Unread” button has no doubt caused countless accidental ghostings, avoidable arguments, and missed opportunities. And its lack has likely made life more difficult for users with conditions that affect memory or follow-through, like ADHD and depression, who may not be able to respond in the moment and have no easy way to record their intention to do so.

John Gruber:

I love Messages. I know there are a bunch of ways Apple could and should improve it, but I can’t think any single feature that I want more than “Mark as Unread”.

I want it to (as it used to) sync the read states across all my devices so that I don’t have to “read” the same message multiple times.

David Zarzycki:

Pro tip / workaround: always screen iMessages via the notification center. This lets you read the messages without changing the read/unread status. Also relentlessly exit the Messages app before locking your phone to avoid accidentally setting the read bit at unlock.

Update (2022-02-04): Mike Rockwell:

I’d also like to see a visual indicator showing where the new messages begin when you jump into a thread with multiple unread items.

John Gordon:

To be reminded of a message one must ask siri “remind me of this message”. There’s no nonSiri option.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

That's a good idea in general but there's SO many things I'd like to see before that. Like working threads and an app that isn't incredibly slow even on one of the biggest M1 MBPs. Sometimes I wish they'd just hire the Telegram engineers.

I'd welcome Mark As Unread as much as anyone, but the statement that, "What’s even wilder is that iMessage doesn’t have any other in-app way for the user to signal that they need to return to a message in order to respond to it" overlooks that there is the imperfect Pinning option as one means to signal yourself about a message that requires attention. That's not a defense of anything, just noting something that's available.

What I’d like to see is image attachments working again. Most of my iMessage threads have only “Tap to Download” placeholders which either don’t do anything or stuck in downloading state after you tap it. Funnily enough, difference between these two could be when they were received: before iOS 15 rollout, or after. Apple Support, as it often happens, could not fix it. No response from engineering.

OT: One thing I've noticed, and has irked me lately, is that Mail doesn't offer a way to share a message other than by mail-oriented methods.

You can't use a Share sheet to save a Mail message in Notes, for example. Or to forward one via Messages instead of via email.

@NaOH I think a lot of people use pinning to mark “favorite conversations” on a semi-permanent basis, so then the pin can’t be used to signal something else such as unread status.

@Jon The same goes for Messages. There’s no way on iOS to select part of a conversation and Copy it or e-mail it.

Not to pile on, but—IMHO—Mail and Messages both suffer, HAVE suffered for a LOOOONG time, from what I can only surmise is a complete lack of brain-/will- power at Apple. Both apps show such a low level of creativity that I'm astounded. There is SO much low-hanging fruit that could make the entire macOS experience better, wrt to "communications productivity", I simply cannot believe that the powers that be at Apple actually use the Mac for work, eg no way they eat their own dog food. (Yes, I am flat-out asserting here that Tim Cook absolutely and undoubtedly delegates most of all his "work" to subordinates who actually put fingers to keyboard; he uses email, he uses messaging… but he's not the one having to coordinate and manage the "life" of a $2T company CEO. I'm positive of this. 25 years ago I did IT for the exec secretary for a VP of a Top 5 financial institution, who used a Mac; no way that person could have used today's Mac, much less an iPad with the workflow that was required, developed. And that included having to print out the VP's emails every morning, because $M+ salary dipstick was (self-described) "computer illiterate". If Tim Cook was doing what this secretary needed to do, like Steve Jobs was (in)famously purported to do, he'd be hunting the halls of the mothership for heads.)

Anyone who has been in this industry for more than a minute can remember doing things with ACT!, QuickMail, Now Up To Date and Contact, etc. that were FAR more "productive" than what we have gotten in 20 years of MacOS X. I certainly can. Sure, we didn't have the web, but I had much better CRM tools. And it isn't like the use case has gone away… we're more connected with other people than we've ever been… but the tools have NOT kept up. And I mostly blame Apple, because it has been their hardware that has driven the paradigm in the past 15 years, and their complete failure in all things communication. (The "other" blame-finger points to Microsoft, which probably, arguably, was most at fault for destroying the original ecosystem, with Exchange and their monopoly position.)

But the current situation is shameful. Apple has nothing to boast about here.

Yeah. As noted pinning is completely different thing. Solves almost none of the same problems.

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