Perhaps predictably, Apple have announced that iMessage chatting will be built in to the next release of the Mac OSX operating system, Mountain Lion.

iMessage is a communication tool available on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch allowing free texting and is seen as a serious competitor to the traditional text/SMS messaging used on mobile platforms.  It does however have one drawback in that it only works between Apple mobile devices -- until now.

Although Apple have announced Mountain Lion and the inclusion of Messages within it, they have also today released a beta version of Messages for download.  Anyone running Mac OSX 10.7.3 or above can download and use it for free.

Messages replaces the current iChat tool but provides all the same functions with the added bonus of iMessage communication.  Messages therefore continues to support AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts.

This was an obvious progression for Apple, however they still have a few issues:

Firstly, will they open it up to non-Apple devices? For example, Windows PCs or other mobile platforms.   Who really knows?  Casting our minds back, iTunes was originally only for the Mac as was the Safari web browser; both have now made it onto Windows PCs.

Perhaps the biggest failing is the lack of continuity with iMessaging.  They say in the adverts "Start an iMessage conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch".  This is carefully worded and of course true.  If I start the iMessage on my Mac I can then continue chatting on the iPhone and it will be in sync.  However, if I start the iMessage on an iPhone, or reply to an existing iMessage, there is every possibility the other iMessage devices I own will not be in sync. The reason is simple -- iPhones send their return address as the mobile number, so if someone replies it always comes back to the iPhone only.  If someone sends/replies to your Apple ID it goes to all the devices.

You can get around this by telling your iPhone to send its iMessage caller ID as your Apple ID, however if another person starts a new iMessage and sends it to your mobile number it never appears on the Mac or iPad/iPod touch.

I see this as a flaw and it surprises me that Apple have not solved the problem.  Surely it can not be that difficult given Apple know my Apple ID on every device and the iPhone number associated with it.

Come one Apple boffins, close the circle.

site by DAJ