When right is not tight!

DESIGN IDEA Mobile Messaging, Predictive Text, WhatsApp

wordflow

“Undo send, d****t!” Does it ring a bell? Well, if you are a Gmail pro or tried “Recall This Message…” feature in MS Outlook then you probably are sensing it. In my case, the exasperation stems from the occasionally distorted text predictions of mobile conversations. That’s what I have illustrated in this article and proposed a solution as well, so read on…

Premise:

I love Swype keyboard and when Windows Phone announced Word Flow, I was thrilled. Though over time, I figured that its prediction engine is somewhat different from that of Swype as I am having too many conversations where the word I mean and what gets typed are different. Like when “tight” gets replaced by “right”! At times it ends up meaning something totally opposite to that of my intention or is just plain stupid. Try typing these words and see how they go (depending on your chosen keyboard, things may be different): Want – Wasn’t, About – Annoy, Or – Our – Poor.

So I pondered on the issue and realized that while in the flow of constructing my response, I hardly check spellings and its only after I’ve sent the message – and in the time my brain is working in anticipating/framing the next comment – I read my post and realize that I’ve made a spelling mistake! Then I rush to correct the word and type hurriedly (even append an asterisk to suggest that I caught the mistake) before the recipient has started replying. Not happening, there has to be an end to this faux pas!

Research:

I went around asking colleagues and friends about their experience and seems like Swype/SwiftKey/Word Flow are not as popular (huh!) But then a lot of them use the word suggestion feature, which has from time to time, still got them to make mistakes. As for making spelling mistakes, the view is that unless it’s a completely different word, it’s OK – yeah, I’d agree too, SMS lingo was born this way.

I realized that my user group were fairly satisfied with the current state of affairs so I switched to heuristics mode and talked to them about my idea. To which, the reactions were fairly positive. That was enough for me to pursue my solution albeit the fact that mobile conversations are supposed to be casual/personal and tolerance for having spelling mistakes or wrong words is fairly high.

Solution:

I needed a mechanism to recall an erroneous message before it’s being delivered to the recipient – simple as that. So without much ado, let me present to you the following mock-ups, which I’m assuming are self-evident. A brief context – it’s a conversation between Anika and me using WhatsApp (version 2.11.516) for Windows Phone 8.1.

     

Notice the square red box with an ‘X’ mark next to the message. Pressing that button will let you recall the message. But there’s more to it – i.e. it lets you edit it for resending. In the mock-up below, notice that the message is back in edit mode and the cursor is now changed to “Pick” (that you can move about precisely.)

For the recall button, I deliberated on the colour, size and icon and felt it’s best to indicate the “Close” button in applications that we all are very familiar with. One other alternative could be remove the button and keep the entire message “clickable” with some visual indication for it, though my gut feeling says a button is going to be easier to catch.

Alright, now if you are wondering how long before you cannot recall anymore, here’s what I have…

In a nutshell, as long as the message has not been delivered to the recipient, you should have the ability to recall it. For detailed information about those marks, read this WhatsApp FAQ.

And for those who don’t want this feature at all, they should be able to turn it off completely from the settings screen, as illustrated here with the new “Allow message recall” control:

Should you be speculating that the recall time is too short, well, yes it is… though at times depending on the network you could get a little longer. To negate, I propose that we add a delay, just about 0.5~1 second at most before the message is being sent. This should be sufficient to allow a review and yet not slow down the conversation.

What more? I’ll continue to work on some more use cases on this, more of it in my next article sometime soon. Meanwhile, till such time that WhatsApp actually makes something like this, you can read this Stack Exchange thread to have a workaround: Can I stop a WhatsApp message from being delivered?

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2 thoughts on “When right is not tight!

  1. Awesome.. I so wish this solution can be implemented. In my case, I frequently send messages to wrong person/group and the impact can be categorized as disaster.. lol.. Your idea can be a good solution to recall those ‘wrong’ messages.. Two thumbs up!!

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