Exactly what is the deal with the iPhone typing indicator bubbles?

Be prepared to rethink many a text conversation…

Life has been so much more stressful since the iPhone and Facebook Messenger ‘typing indicator bubbles’ came along.

You text someone. You wait for their response. The little bubble with three dots indicates they are writing back. You stare at the bubble. And stare. And stare. And then it disappears.

What happened? Where did they go? Did they pass out while texting? Did their thumbs fall off? GAHHHHHH!

Or perhaps you are conscious of how long it is taking you to compose the perfect cute message? Or perhaps you needed to go to the dictionary app to check if you are spelling something write right?

It’s okay. The investigative team at have experiemented, and given us the exact reassurance we needed.

Prepare for a bubble of enlightenment.

The bubble of trauma.

Firstly, iPhones.

When Person B begins replying to a text, Person A’s phone shows the bubbles immediately. Person B has 60 seconds. After those 60 seconds, the bubbles will disappear, even if they are still typing. The phone gets impatient, apparently. To Person A, it may look like Person B has fainted/given up/met someone else, but they may actually be still typing.

More on phones: You can turn off the ‘read’ receipt.

This is under any connection condition, such as wifi to wifi, cellular to wifi, cellular to cellular, etc.

After the bubbles have disappeared, you can continue to edit that message as much as you want, they won’t reappear until after you’ve hit ‘send’ and started a new message. Good to know for all those SMS sonnets you are composing.

What about Facebook Messenger?

If you are typing, the bubbles will come up on the recipient’s end immediately. If you stop typing, they will disappear after 8 seconds. So if you are waiting for a response and the bubble keeps appearing and disappearing, they may be pausing while they type (or fainting or something, we don’t know anything for certain).

Facebook Messenger will only give 30 seconds of bubble action until it gives up on the typer. If you are still typing/editing your message after 30 seconds, the bubble will disappear from the recipients screen, and they may suspect you have run away.

So there you go. Now you can imagine exactly what that person is doing as they are texting you. Stalk away.

Here is a handy chart, from the very handy video on It also experiments with Google chat… but who uses that tbh?

Handy chart from