First Look: Messages for Mac

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014


Apple's new Messages app connects Macs with conversations initiated on iOS devices, as well as providing an easy way to initiate FaceTime conversations.



The new app, in beta, is now available for download from Apple for free. The company's site advertises that it will give users "a taste of what's coming in OS X Mountain Lion," set to be released in late summer 2012.



Apple notes that installing Messages replaces iChat, although it replicates the features of iChat, allowing users to continue to connect to AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Jabber. Messages is essentially iChat 6.0, renamed to fit the iOS app name. Apple will be doing the same renaming with iCal and Address Book in Mountain Lion, harmonizing with iOS' Calendar and Contacts, while also adding Notes and Reminders to make the Mac experience more familiar to iOS users.











The new Messages chat client seems to encourage users to migrate from other IM accounts to using iMessage, which provides additional features, including delivery receipts and the ellipsis signal indicating that the other party is typing. This feature is also hinted at in the app's new icon.



The other advantage to using iMessages is that they are also broadcast to your iOS 5 devices, allowing you to start a conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad or iPhone.



Messages doesn't replace the existing FaceTime app, although it includes a button that will launch a video chat with the party you are chatting with using the FaceTime app, but bypassing the need to look up the contact in the FaceTime app. Apple may further integrate the functionality of the two apps in the future.



Flexible addressing



FaceTime and Messages both use Apple's push notifications servers, which allow the company to deliver messages and files or setup video conferencing sessions addressed to an email.



It's not necessary to use a .Mac or .Me account from Apple; any email address will work, as Apple simply associates the email address you want to use with the hardware you associate with your iCloud account.











In the iMessage account configuration of the Messages app, you can specify multiple email addresses you can be reached at, and set the "Caller ID" email address your recipients will see when you contact them. You can also optionally send read receipts so the other party knows when you've read what they've send you.



From the address field of an ongoing chat, you can also dynamically switch from an AIM or other type of chat conversation to using iMessage, if the other user is also using the Messages app on a Mac or iOS device, ensuring that you'll get copies of the conversations across your devices.



If you have configured different devices to use different email addresses with iMessage, you may find that incoming messages are only sent to one device. This can happen if you migrated from .Mac to .Me and continued to use a .Mac address; the iCloud setup defaults to using the newer .Me email address.



This can also be exploited to keep iMessages from going to all your devices (such as if you only want certain chats to be on your desktop Mac), or alternatively you can configure your iPhone and Mac to use different email addresses so you can chat between them.



Sending iMessages



Apple handles addressing of iMessage chats intelligently, allowing you to type the first letters of a contact or buddy's first or last name.



If you have lots of contacts and AIM buddies with similar names, this might return a lot of options, as each contact might have multiple email addresses, phone numbers or other chat accounts associated with it, as depicted below.











If that's an issue, you might instead prefer to click the plus icon and look up user's names via the iOS-like scrolling list of Contacts or Buddies, or use the search field to help narrow down your options.











Still in beta



Messages seems to work well, although there are a few rough edges, including support for changing text size. You can increase or decrease the text size of messages, but the controls to do this sometimes redraw the text in unexpected ways. After changing the text size, the menu option to "make text normal size" remained greyed out.



The messages window is also rather large with a lot of white space. This makes it look nice but it consumes a lot of desktop real estate for the amount of information it displays.



There also doesn't seem to be a way to hide or significantly reduce the size of the message tabs, which minimally take up a third of the messages window, an information display that's a lot less efficient than the iPhone's "one conversation at a time" display.



There's also no support for being alerted to incoming iMessages unless the Messages app is actually open, something that the FaceTime app for Mac can handle. It launches itself and presents an incoming connection request. With iMessages, there's no prompt until you open the app, and even then it doesn't necessarily flag new messages as being unread, although it does time stamp them so you can see when they were delivered.



Messages will no doubt evolve, and likely integrate with Mountain Lion's new Notifications Center to provide a consistent way to be alerted to incoming requests. Overall, Messages provides a nice enhancement of the former iChat, and seems to be stable enough to use as your regular chat client despite its "beta" designation.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

«13

Comments

  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,856member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    There's also no support for being alerted to incoming iMessages unless the Messages app is actually open, something that the FaceTime app for Mac can handle.



    Wait, what? Even iChat does that. That's embarrassing.



    My only current bug is that it somehow appends a conversation I had with my mother from three years ago onto the front of any new messages I send her. This conversation was not only an AIM to AIM chat (having nothing to do with iMessage), it was not saved by me at any point EVER and should not be existing at all, even locally, since I just did a clean install of Lion last weekend.



    I'm bothered by this invasion of privacy by whichever system was in charge of stealing this information and keeping it for three years.
  • irelandireland Posts: 16,065member
    It's riddled with bugs and blurry text issues, but I'm glad I have use of the beta nevertheless. I don't think they should have used iChat, I believe they should have made a clean break and released and totally simplified app.
  • wigbywigby Posts: 507member
    Does anyone know if this app supports more than 2 users videoconferencing at once? That was one of the best features of iChat which it replaced.
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,608member
    Quote:

    There also doesn't seem to be a way to hide or significantly reduce the size of the message tabs, which minimally take up a third of the messages window, an information display that's a lot less efficient than the iPhone's "one conversation at a time" display.



    You can right click the name on the left for the current conversation, and select open chat in separate window. You can then minimize main window.
  • irelandireland Posts: 16,065member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wigby View Post


    Does anyone know if this app supports more than 2 users videoconferencing at once? That was one of the best features of iChat which it replaced.



    I think it has every iChat feature, which bothers me personally. I would have preferred a new app separate to iChat with literally zero settings and no preferences.
  • jamescouleejamescoulee Posts: 13member
    There's already Growl and Auto-resize scripts for it:

    http://tiagodovale.deviantart.com/ar...Beta-285399682
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    I think it has every iChat feature, which bothers me personally. I would have preferred a new app separate to iChat with literally zero settings and no preferences.



    So you want iChat, FaceTime and iMessages to be separate apps? Why????
  • applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member
    Die, SMS Messaging! Die!
  • igorleandroigorleandro Posts: 36member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    There's also no support for being alerted to incoming iMessages unless the Messages app is actually open, something that the FaceTime app for Mac can handle.



    Messages alert you of messages sent to you by a number on top of the icon at the doc, same as mail or FaceTime, even when my Messages was offline. When it is online the message pops on the top right corner as it did in iChat without Growl or any other plugin, mind you. Works here perfectly.



    One thing that bothers me is that the person who is sending you an iMessage has to choose if it goes to your mail or to your phone. If it chooses your e-mail it pops in your computer, if it chooses the phone number it pops in your phone, but not in both. It could pop everywhere, like FaceTime used to do. But now, it doesn't do that anymore either.



    Also, for those with several accounts you might find yourself with several duplicate entries, like this:



    It duplicated each e-mail for every account I had.



    Again, it is a beta, and hopes are high for improvements, but I can't tell you how happy I'm to have iMessage FINALLY integrated into Mac OS X (erm... OS X from now on?) =)
  • [greg][greg] Posts: 78member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    There's also no support for being alerted to incoming iMessages unless the Messages app is actually open.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Wait, what? Even iChat does that. That's embarrassing.



    I imagine they don't want to bother building this feature into the beta, since it's going to happen via notification center come Mountain Lion. I think "embarrassing" is a bit of a stretch. Why build a separate notification system for one app that will only be useful for six months?
  • koheletkohelet Posts: 58member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post


    Die, SMS Messaging! Die!



    Which is a bit unfortunate, because I just discovered the other day (I don't IM much). If would've been perfect for bulk "Happy {insert Holiday] texts
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,608member
    Ok, so this is pretty fucked up..



    By typing stuff into the search box of Messages, contacts and conversation transcripts are coming up that are literally YEARS old. As in 4+ years old. There's no way my mac has this stuff saved locally, as I bought it a few months ago and didn't restore anything of that sort. I haven't even USED ichat on it. These convos were being saved to the cloud on my previous machine and are still on Apple's servers??? WTF?? And I assume this stuff will also show up on their machines when they use messages? This is just wrong and pretty disturbing.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Ok, so this is pretty fucked up..



    By typing stuff into the search box of Messages, contacts and conversation transcripts are coming up that are literally YEARS old. As in 4+ years old. There's no way my mac has this stuff saved locally, as I bought it a few months ago and didn't restore anything of that sort. I haven't even USED ichat on it. These convos were being saved to the cloud on my previous machine and are still on Apple's servers??? WTF?? And I assume this stuff will also show up on their machines when they use messages? This is just wrong and pretty disturbing.



    Can you explain that in another way, perhaps with screen shots? I'd like to test this out.
  • wigginwiggin Posts: 2,195member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wigby View Post


    Does anyone know if this app supports more than 2 users videoconferencing at once? That was one of the best features of iChat which it replaced.



    And if Messages passes the video chat to FaceTime, what if you are talking to a person who doesn't have FaceTime?



    What about screen sharing? I don't see an icon for it on the screen shots (and can't install it on my Windoze work computer. )



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Ok, so this is pretty fucked up..



    By typing stuff into the search box of Messages, contacts and conversation transcripts are coming up that are literally YEARS old. As in 4+ years old. There's no way my mac has this stuff saved locally, as I bought it a few months ago and didn't restore anything of that sort. I haven't even USED ichat on it. These convos were being saved to the cloud on my previous machine and are still on Apple's servers??? WTF?? And I assume this stuff will also show up on their machines when they use messages? This is just wrong and pretty disturbing.



    What chat system did you use with iChat? An AppleID or AIM or Google Chat? I know Google archives your chat conversations. Is that a standard feature of the Jabber protocol (which is what Google uses, I think, and possibly Apple)? I don't use the others much so don't know about them.



    EDIT: Automatically archiving chat conversation is an absolute nightmare for any company that has to worry about retention rules (ie, every company). Just wait until lawyers start filing discovery requests for all of your chat records looking for evidence for a lawsuit.
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,608member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Can you explain that in another way, perhaps with screen shots? I'd like to test this out.



    Look at the dates of the convos on the left. They're from 2008, etc. I just type in the search bar and it brings up old convos that I know for a fact are not saved locally, from Google Talk etc. The weirdest thing is I don't even have the google talk account enabled in messages. I understand that Google chats can be archived in Gmail. But why are these on Apple's servers?



  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Look at the dates of the convos on the left. They're from 2008, etc. I just type in the search bar and it brings up old convos that I know for a fact are not saved locally, from Google Talk etc. The weirdest thing is I don't even have the google talk account enabled in messages.



    image: http://f.cl.ly/items/3w46180w103K1O2...45.45%20PM.jpg



    That looks like exactly what Wiggin said it was, but you really don't have GoogleTalk under Accounts in Messages Preferences?
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,856member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    [Same problem as me]



    Oh, good, you have this problem, too.



    Was your account for which this is happening an AIM account? Mine was.



    If yours is, we need to march on AIM and demand an explanation. This is abject nonsense.
  • nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I?m enjoying all the almost-entirely-blacked-out screenshots in this thread
  • christophbchristophb Posts: 1,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Look at the dates of the convos on the left. They're from 2008, etc. I just type in the search bar and it brings up old convos that I know for a fact are not saved locally, from Google Talk etc. The weirdest thing is I don't even have the google talk account enabled in messages. I understand that Google chats can be archived in Gmail. But why are these on Apple's servers?




    With iChat, wasn't there an option to log all chats locally? I'd disabled it, I think. I don't see the option to disable it in Messages and my chats have started logging to iChats folder. Perhaps you had logging enabled and you weren't aware?
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Oh, good, you have this problem, too.



    Was your account for which this is happening an AIM account? Mine was.



    If yours is, we need to march on AIM and demand an explanation. This is abject nonsense.



    Interesting. I didn't know AIM kept a history server side.
Sign In or Register to comment.