Mental Floss

Exactly When Do "Indicator Bubbles" Tell Someone You're Typing?

Hannah Keyser

I love the little bubbled ellipse—technical name: "typing awareness indicator"—that lets you know when your conversation partner is typing on iPhone, Gchat, and Facebook messenger. At least, in theory. If I'm composing a text and have to pause midway for backup, I don't necessarily want the other person to assume it's taken me that long to think up such brilliant responses as "Sure!" And a simple "OK" can seem significantly more passive aggressive when you know the person who said it took longer than just a few seconds to type it.

I'm not totally alone in my over-analysis of technological minutia. The folks over at Slate decided to put all our minds at ease by testing once and for all just how long those little bubbles stick around—on iPhone, Gchat and Facebook, both after you've finished composing your message and in cases of continuous editing. The video shows the tests in full, but if you've just got to know right now, the results are summarized in the screengrab below.