Telegram this weekend added a ‘silent message’ option to the latest version of its app. I thought this was a really handy feature and is something I’d like to see Apple add to Messages.

There are three main scenarios where the audible alert you get with incoming Messages may be unwelcome, and the iPhone currently offers solutions for only two of them…

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The most obvious situation is when you’re in a meeting, on a date, watching a movie and so on — and you don’t want any audible alerts at all. That’s what the iPhone’s Do Not Disturb option is for. You can also schedule this to kick in and out automatically so you don’t get audible alerts while sleeping.

Scenario two is when a particular group conversation is a busy one, with people constantly contributing to it. You do want to see what everyone has to say, but you’re happy to check in on the thread from time to time — you don’t need an alert every single time someone posts.

The iPhone also has a solution there, in the form of Hide Alerts.

DND for Messages lets you mute individual threads without muting all of your incoming notifications […]

DND for Messages is a great tool if there’s a specific thread (single or group) that is sending way too many notifications while you’re busy. Unlike leaving a group message, you can still reply and interact after enabling this feature.

But there’s a third scenario: when you as the sender don’t want to be intrusive. That’s what the Silent Message option in Telegram does. Regardless of the recipient’s settings for the thread, it won’t sound an audible alert at their end. They will still see the notification when they check their phone, but it won’t ping them.

My girlfriend and I use Messages as our main form of communication when she’s at work. Some of the time I’ll want her alerted right away. For example, when we were having work done on the apartment, there would be a lot of on-the-fly questions from the handyman, and I’d want to consult her on many of them. In that kind of case, it’s handy to have the audible alert to get a timely decision.

But there are other times when there is no urgency at all. For example, I might just be letting her know something so I don’t forget to mention it when she gets home. Or I might be asking her if she could pick something up on her way home. In those sorts of cases, there’s no need to disturb her at the time — she’ll check her phone whenever it’s convenient and then get caught up.

I can think of quite a few other situations where it would be great to have this option.

That’s the beauty of the Silent Message feature: the sender knows the content of the message, and whether or not it justifies an audible alert. It’s just a long hold on the send button to activate it, making it really easy to use without any UI clutter. It’s one feature I hope Apple will copy.

Would you like Apple to adopt this? Please take our poll and let us know in the comments.

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