There is a free version of texting available on iPhones, iPads and the iPod called iMessage. It is a free service available for anyone with WiFi and using an iOS device or Mac. This texting service allows you to exchange messages with anyone using and iPad, iPhone, iPod or Mac and who are running Mountain Lion or later. It is built right into your Apple device rather than an app that has to be downloaded, and runs much faster than the typical text message through cellular.
This service not only allows for messaging, you can also exchange photos, locations, contacts and videos. If you have more than one Apple device, iMessage will keep your conversation going across all of them. With MMS you will also be able to send photos and videos to other mobile phones using cellular networks. A great hands-off feature is being able to ask Siri to create your text for you with just a simple verbal request.
iMessage Outperforms SMS Texting
While Android users are stuck using SMS Texting to chat with iPhone users it happens from time to time that people ask me ‘What is iMessage and why is it better than texting?’ iMessage has the capability of sending a message to one person or to multiple contacts at one time. This messaging can include photos, videos or any links you may want to share. When one person on the message replies everyone will see it. After you’ve sent a message, iMessage will let you know if it was delivered and will also let you know if the recipient is in the process of replying.
Where’s the difference to SMS?
There are a few differences between the iMessage and SMS texting. One difference between the two is the cost. SMS uses your phones text data plan while iMessage is a free communication. When using the iMessage service your phone will show a blue speech bubble letting you know you are using the service, SMS messages will appear green. If you are texting to someone not on an Apple device, your iDevice will default to SMS services, or if the iMessage is not available.
Why is it Better?
Another difference between the two texting methods is the speed of delivery for your messages. With traditional texting your message is sent through a cellular tower just as your calls are. This can sometimes slow down the delivery as it takes a few seconds to send the message, then a few more seconds for it to get to the recipient. iMessage is instant, it delivers much like and IM conversation on a computer. The number of possible characters is another difference. When sending a SMS text you are limited to 160 characters. The iMessage can be as long as you want it to be as the character count in unlimited.
Another feature that appeals too many is being able to send messages to emails rather than phones. When you register multiple emails with your contacts you are able to send messages straight to their email rather than their phones. iMessage has the capability of knowing when you send a message to someone if they are using iMessage. This is automatically checked by iMessage and if detected they are using the service is will seamlessly transition from a SMS text to an iMessage.
How to use iMessage?
To set iMessage up on your device you start by going to ‘Settings’:
I. In the settings tab you will choose ‘messages’.
II. Turn on iMessage by tapping on the ‘Use your Apple ID for iMessage’. This is only for the iPhone. On the iPod and iPad devices you will be taken right to the ‘sign in’ screen when you tap the ‘messages’ button.
III. Tap on the ‘sign in’ button. You should see any phone number and email address that you have connected to your Apple ID. Complete your sign in and tap ‘next‘.
IV. Choose the email address and phone number you want used when people send messages to you. Under ‘Start new conversations from’ select the email address or phone number you want to use to send outgoing messages. You can then tap the ‘send and receive’ button.
It is recommended that you keep iMessage turned on. The service does default to SMS when it is not available and can detect if you are messaging someone not connected to it. The benefit of using iMessage is much more useful than the typical SMS texting and uses very little data when WiFi is not available.
Whats the conclusion?
So what is iMessage? iMessage overall is a much better messaging system than the typical SMS text messaging. With increased speed in sending messages and the performance of working across all Apple devices it is proving to outperform traditional texting. If you are not connected to WiFi it will use data but the amount is minimal.