Facebook’s Chat Heads first debuted back in April, 2013 as a central UI element in the new Facebook for Android, the Facebook app on iOS, and the laughably ill-received ‘Facebook phone,’ the HTC First. Just like it sounds, a Chat Head is a bubble-like chat indicator that hovers over everything else until you read the message and then dismiss it by dragging it to the trash.
Some people love Chat Heads as a whimsical alternative to the omnipresent UI indicator. Some people despite it as the perfect example of design excess: a disruptive nagging ‘feature’ that forces a user to go through a tedious interaction every time a message is received in order to dismiss it. However you feel about Chat Heads, though, you can now have them on your iPhone’s default Messaging app… if you have a jailbroken device, that is.
‘MessageHeads’ is a new jailbreak tweak by iOS developer Ian Burns that does what it says on the tin. After installing the tweak, a head-like bubble will be overlaid on your iPhone or iPad screen every time you get a message from a contact. If you have a picture assigned to the contact, their picture will show; otherwise, it will simply show their first and last initials. To reply, all you need to do is tap the head. If you want to close it, you just drag the chat head to bottom of the display to the red ‘X’. It works with both SMS messages and iMessages.
We’ve seen at least one similar jailbreak tweak before, but that just broke out Facebook’s Chat Heads into the iOS 7 operating system, bringing them everywhere, even if you weren’t in the social network’s messaging app. This tweak, however, applies the same UI design of Chat Heads to iOS’s default Messaging architecture.
Personally, I’ll pass. I think Chat Heads is one of the worst user interface designs of recent memory, and can’t even imagine a world where I’d want this to be my default way of interacting with messages. If you feel differently, though, you can download the MessageHeads tweak right now on Cydia’s BigBoss repo for just $2.49.