How a Typing Indicator Enables Chat Engagement


Chat apps open the door for a connected experience through real-time messaging. If you’ve ever used a modern chat service to communicate, the chances that you’ve come across a typing awareness indicator are predominantly high. A typing awareness indicator appears when a user is actively typing a chat message, and is often displayed through animated dots, such as an ellipses bubble, or by the name of the user who is typing. The other users in the chat will be able to see these events on their screen as the typing occurs. So, when you’re having these virtual conversations on chat apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, iPhone, Android devices, or social media – a typing indicator is most likely present. 

Why use a typing awareness indicator?

Being able to replicate the feeling of in-person interactions through a chat is vital for your users. A typing indicator enables this authenticity by showing when a user is currently typing, giving an immediate indicator to any user in the chat. This adds value to a chat app by capturing the real-time activity that resembles in-person conversations. This familiarity keeps users invested and engaged in the chat experience. 

In this guide, we will walk you through how a typing indicator boosts engagement within your community, and how you can easily add custom features to your chat while reducing implementation time with PubNub. 

How a typing indicator enhances your user experience

Real-time typing indicators play a key role in delivering an interactive chat experience for your users, providing immediacy that replicates in-person interactions. Being able to send a typing on/off event to indicate when someone is typing a message is fundamental in a chat service, especially with the various platforms that exist today. Whether it’s a group chat iMessage on an iPhone, a text message on an Android device, or a direct message on an iOS social app, a user activity indicator is most likely displayed.

A typing indicator can be added alongside other real-time chat features, enabling users to engage in conversations that are just as interactive as if they were taking place in-person. This keeps users actively conversing on your chat platform, leading to increased user engagement and retention within your community. 

Below, we will explore how typing indicators are used in modern chat apps to enhance the user experience. 

Typing indicators for private and group chat 

A typing indicator can be utilized in direct and group chats to maintain a natural and organic discussion by showing who is actively typing. This can be done with an ellipses bubble or by displaying the name of the user who is typing. If you own an Apple iPhone, iPad, or Android device, you may have noticed this function in your text message conversations. 

Typing indicators for telemedicine chat 

An in-app telemedicine chat for doctors, patients, or administrators can deliver direct communication through real-time messaging, location tracking, and push notifications that improve remote care experiences. Being able to easily integrate custom components, like read receipts and indicators, into a telemedicine chat platform is crucial. And, with our fully secure HIPAA-compliant chat, you can seamlessly share information and build the features of your choosing, while meeting regulatory compliance requirements. 

Typing indicators for social chat apps

To showcase an active conversation on your platform, a typing indicator can be enabled to complement immediate responses and custom message reactions. For instance, a heart emoji on a dating app, a time stamped message, or custom chat components that express human elements – like sending a thumbs-up reaction to an in-game chat message. Additionally, you may have also come across this on chat applications like WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and on social media platforms like Facebook Messenger and other iOS apps. 

Typing indicators for ride-share and food delivery 

Ride-sharing platforms utilize a number of chat activity features like geolocation, message history, read and delivery receipts, and typing indicators to better enhance the user experience. This allows for better direct communication between the driver and rider or recipient, and keeps users on the app instead of switching between external geolocation and messaging services. 

Typing indicators for customer service and support 

In-app chat indicators for customer service apps add an additional layer of immediacy and can lead to increased user satisfaction when people feel that they are interacting with a person in real time. You can quickly resolve issues, while also reducing support costs by triggering a typing signal or indicator. Chat design themes can also add a personalized and modern touch to customer service platforms, making them more visually appealing to users. 

Implementing a typing indicator into your chat provides a more authentic user experience, which can lead to increased engagement on your app. With PubNub’s custom components, simple APIs, and pre-built chat features, you can quickly add a typing indicator to your chat app. 

Typing indicators are real-time chat features that increase user retention and engagement

With more and more messaging applications entering the market, implementing awareness features that differentiate your application from the rest is important. There are core app features that most users expect to find in a chat. For example:

  • push notifications when users receive a message

  • the ability to invite or remove users from a group

  • delivery and read receipts

  • being able to send emojis and gifs

  • and real-time typing indicators

By implementing indicators into your app, this provides a way for your users to interact instantly with one another as if it were a face-to-face conversation. 

Deliver immediate reactions with typing indicators and other activity alerts

Adding a typing activity indicator to your chat enables immediate reactions, which can increase engagement with other real-time chat features. This keeps people engaged on your app instead of external messaging platforms. For instance, user presence within a chat refers to the automatic detection of the online and offline status of users and devices. By enabling a typing indicator alongside PubNub Presence you’re able to not only detect the online/offline status, but to stream instant updates like typing notices, temperature, battery drain, and other dynamic functionalities – while still reducing implementation time for your developers. 

Some of our other scalable APIs and features with Presence include:

Audience Count and Location: detect, update, and keep track of user counts and locations.

Webhooks: configure PubNub to notify your server whenever a presence event or user state changes.

PubNub Functions: trigger serverless functions when an event such as a user connecting or disconnecting occurs, giving you full control over chat behavior.

Deploy fast and secure chat app features like typing activity and other real-time usage notifications

When you choose to add real time chat features, like a typing status or indicator, selecting a reliable service that allows you to focus on delivering your core functionality to your users is essential. Our Pub/Sub Messaging APIs make it easy to build fundamental features like low latency messaging, and low-cost messages for typing indicators. Fast and secure chat features, like a typing indicator, can improve user engagement on your chat app by providing immediate reactions to users who are interacting with one another, enabling them to respond in real time. 

Customize your digital and in-app chat experiences 

By implementing indicators into your chat, you can add custom features with it to improve your user experience. With our Chat Components library, we offer pre-built functionalities and customizable looks like flexible drag and drop components, light and dark themes, and other rich features like a read receipts and reactions without writing complex code. 

Enhancing your app with real-time features like a typing indicator opens the door for increased engagement where your users can have an authentic chat experience that reflects the in-person interactions they are familiar with.  

PubNub and typing indicators

To recap, a typing indicator is displayed when a user is actively typing a message in a chat app. This enables chat engagement by providing immediate feedback to any users in the chat. Luckily, we provide chat SDKs and pre-built features that help developers build quickly, so you don’t have to start from the ground up.

With our scalable APIs and PubNub Presence, you can detect the online presence of a user and implement real-time updates alongside other chat features, like a typing indicator, that is adaptable to your specific use case. While our Pub/Sub Messaging APIs refer to the flow, speed, and security of how these messages are delivered. 

By adding typing indicators to your chat app, you’re able to: 

• Replicate the feeling of in-person interaction

• Boost engagement because users know that they are actively chatting with you 

• Keep people interacting on your chat instead of external messaging platforms

If you’re ready to add a typing indicator to your chat platform, get in touch with one of our experts. We’ll seamlessly get you up and running with our flexible features that will customize your chat experience.