In 2014, Apple debuted the ability to send audio messages in the Messages app in iOS 8, a function that many third-party messaging apps had already adopted. Relative to those apps, I have found the sound quality to be much higher when using iOS, watchOS, or macOS. Nevertheless, there are two areas that Apple should consider addressing: syncing across devices and the user interface.
Given that iMessages are now stored in iCloud, there’s no reason that audio messages should be any different. Yet, sometimes audio messages I send on my iPad appear on my MacBook Pro, but not on my iPhone or Apple Watch. Sometimes ones I send on my iPhone show up on my Apple Watch and my MacBook Pro but not on my iPad. It’s inconsistent to say the least.
Perhaps more importantly, the user interface needs either to be improved or be clarified upon it for the first time. As it stands now, here is how to use the feature:
- Hold the microphone icon to record a message. Let go when you are finished recording and send it, play it back, or delete it. (This seems simple in theory, but a number of friends and family members are thrown off by the fact that the button needs to be held down for the duration of the recording.) To send the message without reviewing it, one can simply swipe up.
- Hold and swipe to the left to record without having to hold down the microphone icon. When finished, press the red button to stop.
- Hold the phone up to your ear. You will hear a faint beeping sound and then you can begin to record your message. (If you have unheard messages, they will automatically play when you first hold the phone up to your ear. To reply, move the phone from your ear briefly and then hold it up to your ear again.)
I’ll admit that it’s pretty easy to use once you get the hang out it, but it’s odd that Apple would offer no help in explaining how to use this complicated feature. Further, I’ve noticed a couple of glitches:
- If my iPhone or iPad do not have orientation lock enabled, audio messages being recored are instantly erased when the orientation shifts. It’s a rather annoying bug (feature?) that has happened to me more than I would like to admit.
- Although I cannot think of any specific scenarios as clearly as the last one, there have been a number of instances where my audio message has been accidentally erased before being sent. It’s beyond annoying!
In short, audio messaging on iOS, macOS, and watchOS provides sound quality that is unparalleled with third party competitors. However, the user interface and sync issues are pretty annoying, and perhaps prevent users from taking advantage of this nice feature.