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Inside Apple's move to open up SMS-style messaging to non-mobile clients

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
Apple unveiled a new iMessaging app that brings SMS-style messaging to iOS devices that lack a mobile data connection, such as WiFi-only iPads and the iPod touch. The technology behind the software presents several advantages for mobile devices over offerings from rival Google and Microsoft, and is also likely to soon find its way to iChat on Mac.

The new messaging service is based on the same technology Apple uses to power Push Notifications for iOS apps: part of the open XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) specification related to PubSub or Publish and Subscribe. XMPP powers Jabber IM, Google Talk and Apple's own iChat Server and local iChat IM over Bonjour.

XMPP was designed to be an open alternative to proprietary chat systems such as AOL's IM, ICQ, Yahoo IM, Microsoft MSN and other desktop PC chat networks that use incompatible systems for discovering online buddies and delivering short messages between them.

In the mobile telephony industry, SMS and MMS originated as interoperable standards for phone makers and mobile carriers to distribute short messages between users, but such services require a mobile account and are not free in the sense of Internet email, where anyone can set up a server and begin sending and receiving messages.

Proprietary IM services for computer users have historically been offered for free, but technology barriers between AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and others have complicated the ability of users to connect to their friends on other services (again, this is in contrast to modern email, where a user's email provider has no impact on whether they can send or receive emails from other users on different servers).

Apple's iChat and Google Talk both support XMPP (aka Jabber) as an open way for users to chat using interoperable standards similar to those used by internet mail, and therefore are compatible with each other and other XMPP chat clients and servers.

The prioritization of messaging features in the development of iOS

When Apple introduced the iPhone, it incorporated support for SMS, but prioritized access to standard Internet email, making it not just possible for users to send and receive desktop emails with attachments from a mobile device, but actually making email the preferred method for sending and receiving messages and attachments such as photos and documents. Apple didn't even add support for MMS (multimedia messages) until iOS 3.

However, Apple didn't initially add built-in support for IM on iOS, which it does support on the Mac via iChat. Instead, IM vendors such as AOL can offer their own third party iOS apps for IM. One of the challenges of desktop IM on mobile devices is the requirement that the chat client keep a persistent network connection open in order to allow other users (and the service itself) to see that the user is available for chat. This is referred to as "presence," and displayed as a "Buddy List."

The client must keep notifying the server that the user is online in order for other users to see that the user is available, but this requires regular network activity, which in turn demands precious battery life. A chat client capable of servicing various IM services would have to do this for each IM network it supported, quickly using lots of battery just to enable basic chat functionality with users on each chat service, a poor tradeoff between end user value and battery life consumption.

Rather than bringing one or more proprietary IM chat services to iOS (as it has done in iChat for Mac users), Apple instead prioritized the development of two other services: the first being push messaging used for both app notifications and push email and contacts, and the second being FaceTime. Both services internally use an IM-like system to deliver alert notifications, push messages or incoming FaceTime calls, and in all cases the technology used is open XMPP messages.



One set of plumbing, lots of fixtures

By building a unified XMPP notification system into iOS, Apple efficiently provided push notifications, push messaging, and FaceTime call notifications without having to keep multiple open connections to several different IM chat provider services, while also avoiding additional dependance upon a mobile account required by SMS. In contrast, Google's Android notifications are based on SMS.

This underlying XMPP plumbing in iOS is now allowing Apple to launch its own chat service, one that doesn't require an SMS mobile account nor an AIM/Yahoo/MSN account, making it both free to use and efficient to support in terms of battery demands. Since iOS already uses XMPP for push notification and messaging, adding support for iMessaging adds no new networking demands.

While some observers had predicted that Apple might use its XMPP notifications infrastructure to create a competitor to Twitter (which itself is a proprietary alternative to SMS or AOL-style IM, but lacking any sort of "buddy presence" system), the company has instead incorporated support for system-wide single sign on for sending Twitter messages on demand from various iOS apps, and has targeted its own XMPP servers at providing an alternative to SMS, AIM, Yahoo IM, and MSN.

This gives iOS users a maximum return on utility without adding new battery demands. Users who want to connect to proprietary IM services can choose to install a third party app. Even then, Apple doesn't allow third party apps to maintain persistent background connections of their own, instead requiring them to use the unified push notifications plumbing to receive incoming message alerts.

iMessaging for iChat?

Being independent from either telephony-oriented SMS or conventional IM systems designed for desktop PCs, Apple's iMessaging service build on open XMPP standards enables the company to add new features, some of which are already visible in iChat via Bonjour (such as an indication of when the remote user is typing). Apple hasn't yet stated that iMessaging will be available from Mac OS X, but it appears the company will add support for the service to iChat, just as it eventually brought FaceTime from iOS to the Mac App Store.

Unlike FaceTime, which only uses push notifications to establish direct video chat conversations between devices (again, independently of telephony standards or proprietary IM networks), Apple's new iMessaging service appears to work more like iChat on the desktop, as it requires a near persistent connection to indicate users as being available for chat. Therefore, iMessaging is likely to be incorporated as a new chat service type in iChat on the desktop rather then being presented as a separate Mac app in the way FaceTime was.

Apple's overall messaging strategy, built on top of XMPP, stands in contrast to both Google's SMS-based notifications for Android as well as the recent acquisition of Skype by Microsoft. Skype offers both video and text chat (and presence information) using proprietary and unique peer to peer technology, but is unrelated to Microsoft's existing MSN messenger service.
post #2 of 68
Apple move the goal post yet again (and MS just bought Skype!) I am thrilled to see this and as an iPad 2 wifi only user can't wait for this.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #3 of 68
Maybe it was Steve Jobs' way to giving AT&T (and other providers) the finger?
post #4 of 68
Its a move to get away from iChat and the age old relationship with AOL. Expect iMessage to ship for Lion in the autumn/winter whilst iChat fades into oblivion.

(not ruling out a PC version of iMessage too)
post #5 of 68
From what I understand this protocol is used for the variety of iOS wireless data transfers.

Another example of how Apple patiently waits to implement something when it actually works. Instead of pushing out features to compete with a feature list.
post #6 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

Maybe it was Steve Jobs' way to giving AT&T (and other providers) the finger?

Seems like it will totally guy the SMS market for providers with the iPhone. When the process is exactly the same, why would one ever TXT a friend who also has an iPhone?
post #7 of 68
Interesting time as we move from circuit switched to packets for the mobile networks and as the carriers continue to argue how they will do SMS & MMS for LTE as well as basic voice, Apple has a solution for IOS waiting in the wings. It would-be a simple matter to pay the carrier networks for that last mile data network and the Apple service can provide the connection to the old POTS and carrier network and let the rest ride on the cloud.
post #8 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post

Maybe it was Steve Jobs' way to giving AT&T (and other providers) the finger?

While it should reduce demand for SMS and thus hurt the carriers, Apple gave them a gift too: iDevices will now receive software updates and do most app updates over the air instead of a USB cable.

So AT&T will lose SMS revenue, but customers will get hooked on iCloud and internet based software updates. That should result in significantly increased data usage by average users, pushing them into higher priced data plans.
post #9 of 68
In Switzerland and other countries in europe, there is already an App that's really popular and in some points better the iMessage.
WhatsApp, http://www.whatsapp.com

WhatsApp is cross platform, meaning it exists for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia. No Windows 7 Phone yet.

It not free, but very cheap (.99cent) and sending Videos, Photos, Text, Location, Voicememos works exactly like iMessage. Its also got send and delivery icons (1 checkmark means its sent to the servers, 2 checkmarks means the app is open and the user read it).

The only difference is, that it doesn't have an SMS fall back.
post #10 of 68
Wouldn't it be great if Apple just bought Sprint, hired a few PHD's, called AppleMobille and only sold iPhones and iPad's from their Apple stores and online. With an unlimited plan for $49.95 for your iPhones and iPad!

How many people would stay with Verizon and ATT...3?

No advertising, no Sprint stores, one simple bill = no customer service or billing staff. Bill through iTunes.

P.S. Then buy a SatTV company! All channels, $29.95/mo.
post #11 of 68
How can you know its better than iMessage, when you've never used iMessage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fabiopigi View Post

In Switzerland and other countries in europe, there is already an App that's really popular and in some points better the iMessage.
WhatsApp, http://www.whatsapp.com
post #12 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple unveiled a new iMessaging app that brings SMS-style messaging to iOS devices that lack a mobile data connection, such as WiFi-only iPads and the iPod touch.

Can someone explain this to me? If I can use iMessage to TXT someone on an iPod Touch, how do I identify the recipient? With traditional TXT, I use a phone number. With email I use an email address. What would I use with iMessage?

Thanks in advance.
post #13 of 68
The same way you Facetime someone on an iPad or iPod Touch. It uses their email address.


Quote:
Originally Posted by delreyjones View Post

Can someone explain this to me? If I can use iMessage to TXT someone on an iPod Touch, how do I identify the recipient? With traditional TXT, I use a phone number. With email I use an email address. What would I use with iMessage?

Thanks in advance.
post #14 of 68
Is Lion Server finally going to support push e-mail to iOS devices?
post #15 of 68
Maybe it's just me, but I get the impression that Apple has learned enough about and had enough of the weakest links in their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch product chain... Wi-Fi hotspots and the phone companies. It's about time they started burning some bridges and took these things to the next level and AWAY from the phone service providers, who have nothing more than their own interests in mind.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #16 of 68
Bye bye iChat.
post #17 of 68
Your Apple account ID.

Quote:
Originally Posted by delreyjones View Post

Can someone explain this to me? If I can use iMessage to TXT someone on an iPod Touch, how do I identify the recipient? With traditional TXT, I use a phone number. With email I use an email address. What would I use with iMessage?

Thanks in advance.
post #18 of 68
iChat, Facetime, iMessenger = Unzen

Am I the only one who feels these should be 1 app? Unzen = Unapple!
post #19 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Bye bye iChat.

More like, "Hello, iChat that does iChat, FaceTime, and iMessage in one application like it freaking should."

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #20 of 68
iMessage is a killer app ... killer of RIM: http://bit.ly/mhHDrH
post #21 of 68
Why didn't they just call iMessage iChat? I don't know about anyone else, but iChat rolls of the tongue easier than iMessage. And they could tie it into iChat on Mac which would be EASY for everyone to understand... now there's iMessage UGH...
You think Im an arrogant [expletive] who thinks hes above the law, and I think youre a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong. Steve Jobs
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You think Im an arrogant [expletive] who thinks hes above the law, and I think youre a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong. Steve Jobs
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post #22 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Wouldn't it be great if Apple just bought Sprint, hired a few PHD's, called AppleMobille and only sold iPhones and iPad's from their Apple stores and online. With an unlimited plan for $49.95 for your iPhones and iPad!

How many people would stay with Verizon and ATT...3?

No advertising, no Sprint stores, one simple bill = no customer service or billing staff. Bill through iTunes.

P.S. Then buy a SatTV company! All channels, $29.95/mo.

Buying Sprint is US-centric thinking. This won't happen because Apple's strategy spans beyond the US, which is no longer the largest mobile market. Think beyond your borders.
post #23 of 68
Is iChat even a part of Mac OS Lion? Perhaps it is already being killed.
post #24 of 68
What ever happen to all that White Space noise we heard a while ago?
I am sure that Microsoft, Google and all the rest that were making all the
noise did not have the courage to open up the airwaves.
Apple is really the only one who will go against the establishment.
post #25 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Is iChat even a part of Mac OS Lion? Perhaps it is already being killed.

Of course it is. You can't kill iChat. FaceTime can't do half of what iChat does, and iMessage isn't anywhere near the other half.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #26 of 68
iMessage is only useful if every single person in the world has an iOS Device. SMS/MMS are global standards that exist on every text device regardless of maker. iMessage is proprietary. It will have limited appeal but for me, most of my contacts do not have iOS devices (yet) and some will never have one (love Androids).
post #27 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Wouldn't it be great if Apple just bought Sprint, hired a few PHD's, called AppleMobille and only sold iPhones and iPad's from their Apple stores and online. With an unlimited plan for $49.95 for your iPhones and iPad!

How many people would stay with Verizon and ATT...3?

No advertising, no Sprint stores, one simple bill = no customer service or billing staff. Bill through iTunes.

P.S. Then buy a SatTV company! All channels, $29.95/mo.

Apple would never buy Sprint or any other cell company for that matter.

Apple considers mobile operators as dumb pipes. They provide no value add. Mobile operators are like the electric company, just a utility.
post #28 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

How can you know its better than iMessage, when you've never used iMessage?

He knows iMessage is not cross platform.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #29 of 68
This was trending on reddit. And I thought I should post. Things don't look too well. At least to me, or any one else who has seen them.

Steve Jobs rests his head against his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, after delivering the keynote address to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at Moscone West on Monday.
post #30 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblackswan View Post

This was trending on reddit. And I thought I should post. Things don't look too well. At least to me, or any one else who has seen them.

Steve Jobs rests his head against his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, after delivering the keynote address to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at Moscone West on Monday.

Oh, for frick's sake. He's not resting his head because he's exhausted, he's resting his head lovingly. These people have obviously never done that, so they're being doomsayers.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #31 of 68
I only SMS with a few close friends and family and they are all using iOS as of a couple of months ago. So I will be punishing imessage as soon as iOS 5 arrives. So it's goodbye google voice and as for carriers, no way I am paying for SMS when I pay for a data plan. Goggle voice, MobileMe push email, third party texting app, imessage, whatever. Not getting any more money from me so they can suck it!
post #32 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Oh, for frick's sake. He's not resting his head because he's exhausted, he's resting his head lovingly. These people have obviously never done that, so they're being doomsayers.

Look at the next pic. It seems sad to me. Anyhow, I only posted because it felt that way, and I am not alone.

http://www.reddit.com/r/apple/commen...inst_his_wife/
post #33 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

He knows iMessage is not cross platform.

And WhatsApp only works on the iPhone. Won't work on the iPad nor the iPod touch. Otherwise, it is nice app as long as you get your messages on time not hours or days later.
post #34 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblackswan View Post

Look at the next pic. It seems sad to me. Anyhow, I only posted because it felt that way, and I am not alone.

And have any of these people ever felt or expressed love for another person? Jeez.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #35 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

And have any of these people ever felt or expressed love for another person? Jeez.

Ah so you are the one who posted this on the other reddit post - "Did you see him lift anything? How do you know he's weak?" You obviously think that he is great, while most of us don't. Anyways it all conjecture. I thought it was relevant. And a lot of developers too have tweeted how they felt this was the last Stevenote. And this picture exemplified that in my mind.
post #36 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by allmypeople View Post

iChat, Facetime, iMessenger = Unzen

Am I the only one who feels these should be 1 app? Unzen = Unapple!

They probably will be, at least technologically, if not the mental model. The underlying iMessenger framework supports the functionality of all of them plus notifications, and in a svelte way. iChat and FaceTime presumably will meld and the inefficient supporting technology will go away.
post #37 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple unveiled a new iMessaging app that brings SMS-style messaging to iOS devices that lack a mobile data connection, such as WiFi-only iPads and the iPod touch. The technology behind the software presents several advantages for mobile devices over offerings from rival Google and Microsoft, and is also likely to soon find its way to iChat on Mac. ...

iChat sounds so much better than "iMessaging" though.

I wish they'd actually done something with iChat instead of letting it languish all these years. Then they wouldn't have to reinvent chat yet again with iMessage.

Bleh. It's not only not a nice sounding word/phrase, it's actually kind of hard to use in regular speech.
post #38 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblackswan View Post

Look at the next pic. It seems sad to me. Anyhow, I only posted because it felt that way, and I am not alone.

http://www.reddit.com/r/apple/commen...inst_his_wife/

Oh please. That's just a married couple being close - after he's done with a big event. She's actually smiling in the second pic.
post #39 of 68
I'd like to see the FaceTime service regulated to an open, service that is backed into iMessages.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #40 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblackswan View Post

Look at the next pic. It seems sad to me. Anyhow, I only posted because it felt that way, and I am not alone.

http://www.reddit.com/r/apple/commen...inst_his_wife/

it only "seems sad to you" because you read the stupid write-up on Reddit instead of actually looking at the picture.

Both it and the next one clearly show Jobs smiling, and his wife smiling back at him. He's not exhausted, and you can totally tell quite easily by looking at the pictures as well as the ones on either side, as well as simply watching the freaking Keynote.

These are pictures of a happy man at the top of his game and it's ridiculously obvious that they are, if (again), you actually look at the pictures (closely).
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