A key feature touted by many a messaging app is the ability to "unsend messages", sometimes referred to as a "message recall" feature. This feature means that after an original message is sent to the people you are chatting with, you can delete/remove those messages from not only your devices but also from those message recipients' devices.

Unsending messages is a particularly useful feature for maintaining your privacy in both personal and professional communications because it enables you to send confidential text and images for a limited period of time before you decide you no longer want the other parties to have access to that content.

You may also find you need to unsend messages immediately after sending them if you noticed an embarrassing mistake, typo, or any other message content that makes it a bad message.

How message unsending is implemented differently across chat apps

Message unsending is not the same on every chat app, and some of those differences are quite important to remember, including when you can unsend messages, what happens after you unsend a message, and how easy it is to unsend messages.

Time-limits on message unsending

When choosing a private chat app for its unsend feature, check how long you have before can no longer unsend your messages.

WhatsApp's "Delete for everyone" feature is officially limited to 7 minutes after a message is sent. After this time, you can only delete a message for yourself. When using Signal, this time limit is up to 3 hours. On LINE, the chat app that is popular in many Asian countries, you have 24 hours to recall messages.

What of course is better, is the ability to unsend messages at any point in future, when the nature of your relationship with the message recipients or their need to have access to your content has changed. Both Telegram and Rolo Secure Chat allow you to unsend/delete your messages at any time.

Rolo Secure Chat's unsend/delete button appears when you long-press your messages

Leaving Tombstones behind

On some apps, when you unsend/recall/delete a message, another message is left in its place, telling others in the chat that you deleted a message. This is known as a "Tombstone". WhatsApp, Signal and LINE all leave such tombstones.

Sometimes you may not want this kind of evidence left behind, and prefer that your messages be removed from chat participants' devices without a trace. When you unsend messages on Telegram or Rolo Secure Chat, those messages don't leave a trace on any of the participants' devices, so should you think twice about sending a message before they read it, they'll be none-the-wiser that it was ever there.

Instant "Undo" button

With most chat apps that offer an undo send feature, it is typically a 2 or 3 tap process to unsend messages - usually, you have to long-press on the message you want to unsend, and then choose the "Unsend" or "Delete" option, and then depending on the app, you may be asked if you want to delete it just for yourself or for everyone (a third tap).

Rolo Secure Chat features an innovative "Undo" button, which appears beside every message you send for 10 seconds. Tapping this button will instantly unsend your original message and return its text into the message input field for you to edit your message content before you send a replacement message. This feature is perfect to save you from embarrassing mistakes or typos.

Rolo Secure Chat's instant Undo (unsend) button appears for 10 seconds after you send a message

Which app should you choose?

The most flexible private chat apps with an unsend message feature are Telegram and Rolo Secure Chat. But before you make your choice, you also need to consider the security of that chat app too.

Conversations on Telegram are not end-to-end encrypted by default, meaning that the privacy of your message content is potentially at risk should Telegram staff ever decide to access your messages or agree to allow governments, law enforcement or other third parties to access their servers (which they claim has not happened to date). Telegram's end-to-end encrypted "Secret chats" are only available for one-to-one conversations and not groups.

All chats, whether one-to-one or group chats on Rolo Secure Chat are always end-to-end encrypted by BlackBerry. Guaranteeing the privacy of your conversations, whether or not you have unsent the messages.