iOS 16's editable iMessages may have a big flaw

Image showing iPhone with iMessage app open
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One of iOS 16's most interesting features is the ability to edit iMessages, but it appears it won't work properly unless all users are on the latest version of Apple's mobile OS.

9to5Mac found that sending message edits from iPhones or iPads using the latest iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 beta software to iPhones running iOS 15 or older didn't actually change the original message. Instead, a new message was sent to the recipient(s), along with the altered text and the label “Edited for.” 

The possible reason for this is that iOS 16 can't make its older versions delete the previous message. It's likely, therefore, that this doubling-up would also happen when trying to edit messages sent to Android phones.

This is still a slight improvement from the first beta, which just wouldn't send edits to iPhones with older OS versions at all. However, it's a weird workaround for sure, similar to how prior to a recent update, using iMessage reactions on a message sent by an Android device would display there as a separate message.

Currently, this double messaging is only an issue for anyone running the iOS 16 beta, which isn't too many people since it's a developer-only beta for the time being. But when the public beta opens in July, and we eventually get the stable release (most likely alongside the iPhone 14), then anyone using an iPhone 7 or older, or an Android device, could well receive these dual unedited/edited messages. Of course, Apple's engineers may be able to change how this feature works before then — but if not, it could quickly get annoying.

On the plus side, this is just one of many new features coming to iOS 16, and the others won't spam your friends with slightly differing messages. For instance, there are new Lock Screen customization options, an Apple Pay Later feature for delaying or splitting large payments, a medication tracker in Apple Health and much more. Read our iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 guides to see what's in store for your iPhone or iPad later this year.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.