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The desktop Messages application replaced iChat as the native OS X instant messaging client with the release of OS X Mountain Lion in July 2012. While it inherits the majority of iChat's features, Messages also brings support for iMessage, Apple's messaging service for iOS, as well as FaceTime integration.
The mobile version of Messages on iOS used on iPhone and iPad also supports SMS and MMS due to replacing the older text messaging Text app since iOS 3. Users can tell the difference between a message via SMS and one sent over iMessage as the bubbles will appear either green (SMS) or blue (iMessage).
iPhone OS 3
Apple released Messages for the iPhone as a built-in application with iPhone OS 3.0 on June 17, 2009. It replaced the Text application which had been the native messaging application since the iPhone's inception. The change in name was due to the iPhone gaining native support for the MMS protocol, in addition to the previously available SMS protocol. Even though the iPhone 3G, the newly released iPhone 3GS, and the original iPhone all received the OS 3.0 update, the original iPhone was left out of support for MMS, citing hardware challenges. Messages also gained support for sharing contacts using the vCard standard. Other big changes included support for copy and paste, and the ability to forward or delete multiple messages at a time.
With the release of iPhone OS 4.0 (name later changed to iOS 4.0) in 2010, Messages received a minor upgrade. Among the new features was the ability to search within text messages, much like the search feature in Mail. It also added support for displaying a character count to notify when one had gone over the standard SMS character limit. iOS 4.0 also included support for a red exclamation mark to appear on the app's icon to warn failure to send a message. Developers were provided with a new API that allowed them to add embedded messaging functionality to their apps.
The iPad and the iPod touch gained support for Messages with the release of iOS 5.0 on October 12, 2011. Unlike the iPhone, which now supported SMS, MMS and iMessage, the iPad and iPod touch only supported Apple's iMessage protocol. With iMessage, users with iOS 5 could now send text, picture messages and contacts over WiFi or 3G to other iOS 5 devices without using their carrier quota. In addition, a user could start their conversation on one device and continue on another. Messages also introduced typing indication, delivery and read receipts for iMessage. With the introduction of Notification Center, new SMS, MMS or iMessages could now be seen on lock screen or by pulling down the Notification Center.
iOS 6 helped improve syncing between multiple devices. iPod touch and iPad users could now use their iPhone phone numbers to send or receive iMessages. Earlier, iPhone users could not receive iMessages sent to their phone number on their iPad or iPod touch. In addition, users could now add additional emails to receive and send messages on any device. All these settings are accessible in the Settings application under the Messages tab. iOS 6 also added a Share button on apps like Safari and Photos, which enabled users to share links and photos using SMS/MMS or iMessage without leaving the app.
In iOS 7, Messages received a new user interface. Apple also allowed users to see message post date by swiping messages view from right to left. In iOS 8, users can send audio and video messages by holding down the record button. In group conversations, users can remove/add someone to a thread, name a thread, share their location in a thread, view all attachments, and turn on Do Not Disturb to not receive notifications from a specific thread. As a part of the new continuity feature, users can now use their iPhones as a relay to send and receive SMS and MMS messages on their Macs and iPads. In iOS 9, the app received a redesigned overlay when sending an audio clip, as well as seeing contact photos in list view on iPhone 6 or later. In iOS 10, the app has its own App Store allowing the user to download third-party Messages apps. These apps allow the user to send stickers and play games within the Messages app. The app received new visual effects. For example, chat bubbles can be sent with a "loud" or "gentle" effect.
Messages on OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
10.8 Mountain Lion
Messages was announced for OS X as a beta application on February 16, 2012 for Macs running Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion". It was released in conjunction with a developer preview to Apple's then to-be-released OS, Mountain Lion (10.8). The beta was discontinued on December 12, 2012, just over 3 months after the release of Mountain Lion.
The full-version of Messages for OS X was released on July 25, 2012 and included with Mountain Lion. Messages replaced iChat, the default IM client since Mac OS X 10.2. In addition to supporting Apple's new iMessage protocol, Messages on OS X retained its support for AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and Jabber. Messages unitizes the newly added Notification Center to notify of incoming messages. The introduction of a new Share button in applications like Safari, Finder and Preview gave users the ability to share links to webpages, photos or files. Messages also supported dragging and dropping files or photos for sharing. Messages also supports video calling through Apple's FaceTime and the third-party IM services it supports.
With the release of 10.8.2, Messages on OS X gained the ability to send and receive iMessages using an iPhone phone number.
In Yosemite, the app has been redesigned to look like the app in iOS 7 and 8. As a part of the new Continuity feature, users will now be able to send and receive SMS and MMS messages through their iPhones running iOS 8.
The possibility to reopen previous conversations has been removed.
Embedded control of font size and character format within sent messages has been removed.
As a headlining feature in iOS 5, Messages was widely reviewed and was met with fairly positive reviews.
Dante Cesa from Engadget, in his review, praised the "brilliance" in Apple's execution of Messages. He complimented the way Messages did not change the earlier SMS UI and would automatically convert an SMS/MMS to iMessage if the recipient was registered; and from iMessage to SMS/MMS if they stopped using the service. Dan Moren from Macworld was also in praise of Apple execution saying that "...there's no having to explain to your less technically savvy friends how they can send you a free message instead of an SMS; it's all done automatically." This feature was widely praised.
AnandTech praised Apple's technical achievements with Messages, particularly with iMessage. They noted that doing away with SMS's character limits (140 or 160) helped eliminate messages being sent and received split up into two or more messages. In their tests they found that Apple actually prioritized using cellular networks to send text messages as opposed to WiFi networks in spite of possibly incurring data costs. They claimed that data usage with text based iMessage was small enough to ignore especially when it is considered that cellular networks are more secure than WiFi (protected or not). With picture or video messages, Apple prioritized WiFi given the much higher data consumption as compared to text.
Most of the criticism for Messages relates to iMessage. Before the release of iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2), the inability to receive iMessages sent to one's iPhone phone number on the iPad, iPod touch or Mac was criticized. This feature was addressed in iOS 6 for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches and OS X 10.8.2 for Macs.
Using Apple's VoiceOver screen reader (on both iOS and macOS), visually impaired users can tap on a message and have it be read out to them. They can also navigate the Messages UI using Voice Over. Utilizing Siri with Messages enables one to dictate and send messages with just a few commands. Siri is also able to read out new incoming messages. The default font size on iOS Messages is editable under the Accessibility tab in the Settings application.
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