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Inside Apple's iOS 5: iMessage to bring proprietary chat to iPhone, iPad

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
iOS 5 will include a proprietary chat client dubbed iMessage for iOS-to-iOS chat and sharing of media, a system not unlike Research in Motion's BlackBerry Messenger.

The new iMessage application is based on the same push technology developed in-house by Apple and previously used for application notifications, as well as push e-mail and contacts. It, along with Apple's FaceTime video chat standard, internally uses an IM-like system to deliver messages and notifications.

iMessage replaces the existing native Messages application on the iPhone, allowing for both Apple's proprietary iMessages as well as traditional text messages to be sent and received.

It also marks the debut of a native messaging client for the iPad and iPod touch. With iMessage, users of all iOS 5 devices will be able to chat with one another.

Because no phone number is associated with devices like the iPad and iPod touch, the iMessage client will work much like FaceTime currently does on those devices, and will be linked to an e-mail address. In addition, without access to a phone number, an iPad or iPod touch will not be able to send traditional text messages; that capability remains an iPhone-only feature.

Wireless carriers were said to have been caught off guard by Apple's announcement of iMessage this week. Fees associated with text messaging and MMS sending of pictures and videos are a very profitable component of the wireless business for carriers.




Of course iMessage is not limited solely to text, as users can also share video and pictures with other iMessage users. Traditional MMS functionality was a feature that iPhone users originally waited more than two years to gain access to in the U.S., as AT&T didn't enable the feature until September of 2009.

With Apple's new iMessage, when something is sent to another iMessage user, the status of the message is made available with confirmation of sending, receiving and reading. In addition to knowing when the person on the other end has viewed the message, users can also see when the person they're talking to is typing, much like with desktop-style instant messaging clients like iChat and AIM.

Video walkthrough of iMessage on iOS 5 courtesy of AppleInsider reader Nick Wellings.

The native application also differentiates between iMessages and traditional text messages with a grayed out indicator in the entry box. Before a user begins to type, the system informs them whether the message they are sending is a "Text Message" or "iMessage."

Traditional text messages and iMessages can also be quickly differentiated based on a color scheme adopted by Apple. When a text message is sent, it is displayed in a green bubble, as usual. But iMessages are seen in a light blue bubble. Received iMessages and text messages are always displayed in gray.



For now, in the first beta issued to developers this week, iMessage has some issues, as messages are often not sent or received. But Apple has plenty of time to work out the kinks, as iOS 5 is not set to become available to end users until this fall.



iOS will include 200 new user features and 1,500 new application programming interfaces for developers. The free update will be available for the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, iPad, iPod touch (fourth generation), and iPod touch (third generation). For more on iOS 5, see the rest of AppleInsider's ongoing Inside iOS 5 series, with individual stories included below:

Built-in Twitter integration makes tweeting a snap

LED flash on calls, custom accessibility gestures & vibrations

Calendar improvements help make iPhone, iPad PC-free

iTunes Tone Store will offer more text alert options

Notification Center, banner alerts

Inside Apple's move to open up SMS-style messaging to not-mobile clients

Reminders app offers location-aware to-do lists

Safari Reader, private browsing, tabs on iPad

PC Free setup, keyboard shortcuts
post #2 of 41
Great article other than the double negative "not unlike"

However... isn't this the 5th time we've talked about iMessage?
post #3 of 41
Apple seems to be making it more and more difficult for families to share one iTunes account, or is the email address referred to here separate from the iTunes account email address? I really hope they have a solution for multiple users on one account because it is not going to be feasible to scale up with all of these different services being based on one account.
post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post

But Apple is now all abut open standards, like HTML5. I'm pretty certain that they will make this open source so it can contact the majority of phone users, instead of just Steve's customers.

Proprietary? Not a chance in hell...

They're only dubbing it proprietary because it's an in-house build with no Public APIs currently available to developers.
post #5 of 41
These articles are what AI does best. Love their breakdowns.
post #6 of 41
Not everything Apple does is open to everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post

But Apple is now all abut open standards, like HTML5. I'm pretty certain that they will make this open source so it can contact the majority of phone users, instead of just Steve's customers.

Proprietary? Not a chance in hell...
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post

But Apple is now all abut open standards, like HTML5. I'm pretty certain that they will make this open source so it can contact the majority of phone users, instead of just Steve's customers.

Proprietary? Not a chance in hell...

Open like Facetime?
post #8 of 41
Facetime actually is open. So far no one else uses the api.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

Open like Facetime?
post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

Apple seems to be making it more and more difficult for families to share one iTunes account, or is the email address referred to here separate from the iTunes account email address? I really hope they have a solution for multiple users on one account because it is not going to be feasible to scale up with all of these different services being based on one account.

What exactly do you lose by the kids having their own iTunes accounts? As I understand it you can have a device authorized for two accounts at once anyway, so you can have a single family account for app purchases etc, and individual accounts for iMessage/facetime/whatever.

I actually have two iTunes accounts, one for the UK itunes store and one for the US - it's not that big an inconvenience.
post #10 of 41
This is going to be awesome when texting people in Canada, etc. where I'd otherwise get billed 50 cents a text message by AT&T.

Free text messages to Canada are the biggest thing I miss about Sprint. I can use Google voice to get around it, but still, it was nice.
post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Facetime actually is open. So far no one else uses the api.

Where can I get the API documentation or the implementation of Factime?
post #12 of 41
Whether they open it up or not, Im really glad to have a REAL alternative to SMS! Meaning: one that uses the same old app you use to contact non-iOS people. Nothing to think about, install, learn or sign up for. Just use the Messages app for everyone, and enjoy the fact that its free when the other end is on iOS too.

(Ill never pay for a text plan on principle. Sometimes I even disable SMS receiving! Meebo and email do the job for me for now.)
post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Sometimes I even disable SMS receiving! Meebo and email do the job for me for now.)

Do you pay for receiving SMS's or calls?
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Facetime actually is open. So far no one else uses the api.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

Where can I get the API documentation or the implementation of Factime?

I'm with Gwydion on this one. Though Apple has announced Facetime will be an open standard, they have no released any sort of documentation or protocols for other vendors and developers to use it.

That being said I'm sure they're planning on the release of a Facetime standard soon since it has been almost a year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post

But Apple is now all abut open standards, like HTML5. I'm pretty certain that they will make this open source so it can contact the majority of phone users, instead of just Steve's customers.

Proprietary? Not a chance in hell...

While I highly doubt this, I could see Apple releasing an iMessage standard along side of Facetime (something that just struck me as I was writing this reply!).

Apple is all about open standards in some cases, but not all. A good example would be Cocoa or (less acceptable) Fairplay.
post #15 of 41
I meant the api isn't available yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

Where can I get the API documentation or the implementation of Factime?
post #16 of 41
Perhaps they want to make sure its stable and can scale without crashing. What a scandal it would be if that happened.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobodyy View Post

I'm with Gwydion on this one. Though Apple has announced Facetime will be an open standard, they have no released any sort of documentation or protocols for other vendors and developers to use it.

That being said I'm sure they're planning on the release of a Facetime standard soon since it has been almost a year.
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

I meant the api isn't available yet.

So, if there is no API or no documentation, how is it open?
post #18 of 41
Not that I'm the expert, but isn't the fact that AI has now posted images that include the names Slash, Katie and Kasper enough for Apple to kick you out of the iOS dev program?

I thought you were under the same NDA as every dev. Seems to me, making yourself part of this story runs counter to basic journalism.

Are you telling me that there is no agreement in existance to not post or discuss specifics from Apple's dev kit?

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post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post

People who break their promises to Steve don't deserve to be trusted any longer.

You're acting, don't you?
post #20 of 41
So...will there be a corresponding app in Lion? Is there a iMessage capability for the desktop?
post #21 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

Apple seems to be making it more and more difficult for families to share one iTunes account, or is the email address referred to here separate from the iTunes account email address? I really hope they have a solution for multiple users on one account because it is not going to be feasible to scale up with all of these different services being based on one account.

There is something called Home Sharing in iTunes. Look into it. Beside, your iTunes/App Store can be different from your FaceTime and iMessage accounts.
post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

So...will there be a corresponding app in Lion? Is there a iMessage capability for the desktop?

I wouldn't be surprised if they integrate it into iChat.
post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

Apple seems to be making it more and more difficult for families to share one iTunes account, or is the email address referred to here separate from the iTunes account email address? I really hope they have a solution for multiple users on one account because it is not going to be feasible to scale up with all of these different services being based on one account.

I just don't see any of these iOS devices it's been made for multiple users. In fact they don't have user accounts. I think they are too personal for being considered as a multiple user device. Maybe the iPad could gain a user account feature, but that could happen just when the capacity reach 128GB or more and the processors could be more powerful. By now they are completely personal devices.
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post #24 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

I wouldn't be surprised if they integrate it into iChat.

That would be spiffy. Is there any technical reason someone couldn't create a mac app to do this?
post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Wireless carriers were said to have been caught off guard by Apple's announcement of iMessage this week. Fees associated with text messaging and MMS sending of pictures and videos are a very profitable component of the wireless business for carriers.

o rly?

Something else that's profitable for carriers? Minutes. Can't wait for iCall to show up in the Phone app and a corresponding iCall app to show up on wi-fi only iOS devices. It's the logical next step. The awesome part of that would be that if you're on wifi you don't have to use your minutes you were only hanging onto for calling non-iOS devices. And the iPod touch might become Gruber's new phone
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

That would be spiffy. Is there any technical reason someone couldn't create a mac app to do this?

Yes. There is a server side security certificate that only exist on Apple's servers.
post #27 of 41
If text messages are just data and voice/VOIP is just data, why not call a duck a duck. The final straw for Apple eating the carriers' collective lunch will be when Apple becomes an MVNO. Then they'll be pitting the physical carriers in a bidding war against each other: Apple takes their cut, the customer still gets a price break, and only the carriers cry. I mean, if that happened, Apple could subsidize the phones themselves out of their cut, and the carriers couldn't say boo about sim-less or world mode phones. Lalala

http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2011/06/...tion-extended/
post #28 of 41
From the beginning of Facetime Apple stated the intention for it to be an open protocol, though the API's are not yet available. Its likely Apple is holding the API's to make sure the system will be stable and not crash when it has hundreds of millions of users.

Is that better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

So, if there is no API or no documentation, how is it open?
post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

Apple seems to be making it more and more difficult for families to share one iTunes account, or is the email address referred to here separate from the iTunes account email address? I really hope they have a solution for multiple users on one account because it is not going to be feasible to scale up with all of these different services being based on one account.

See if this helps:

http://blog.brianstucki.com/post/635...1/sharedicloud
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post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

I wouldn't be surprised if they integrate it into iChat.

I sure hope so. I'm finding myself missing iMessages when on the Mac. It's just so seamless.

I also hope they integrate FaceTime into iMessages. Not a fan of the two separate apps.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

From the beginning of Facetime Apple stated the intention for it to be an open protocol, though the API's are not yet available. Its likely Apple is holding the API's to make sure the system will be stable and not crash when it has hundreds of millions of users.

Is that better?

I think there are some major security hurdles with FaceTime being open.
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post #31 of 41
Hmm really. What would those be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I think there are some major security hurdles with FaceTime being open.
post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Hmm really. What would those be.

The way I think it works is that Apple's FaceTime servers securely verify and handshake between both parties. You need only an email address to connect to a user, not a phone number.

As the party initiating FaceTime you obviously call back to the server, which sends a request to other party if it's on the network. The security part comes in here, with Apple's servers knowing the IP address of the other party because of a hidden "push notification" that got the request and sent back the IP address so both parties can be directly connected for real time A/V with QoS.

At least, that's how I think it works. If it is then being open to allow any server to use an email address to get your IP address is a security issue. If it not, and Apple's servers are between each and every FaceTime video chat then it can't really be open if Apple has to remain the middle man for any and all users.

The only way I can see this working is not being "open" in the sense that Android users expect services to be open, but instead using open standards so that Apple's FaceTime servers can act like a telco whereby you an AT&T phone can call a Verizon phone or even to another country's telco.
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post #33 of 41
Ah I see, yeah that is a concern.


Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

At least, that's how I think it works. If it is then being open to allow any server to use an email address to get your IP address is a security issue. If it not, and Apple's servers are between each and every FaceTime video chat then it can't really be open if Apple has to remain the middle man for any and all users.
post #34 of 41
Regarding the openess of iMessage protocols, hadn't Daniel Eran Dilger already explained here that it is based on XMPP? or was he wrong? He concluded that that would enable integration of iMessage into iChat.

Here is the link http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...e_clients.html
post #35 of 41
How is this a look into imessage? It is a re-spin of an earlier article. Apple insider has posted many great articles that look into things, this is not one of them.
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post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by sennen View Post

See if this helps:

http://blog.brianstucki.com/post/635...1/sharedicloud

Thank you for the link. It helps... somewhat. In that process you still share App data and Game Center account among your family members. Not an ideal situation. But if we can just share iTunes purchases like music, movies, and books among multiple Apple IDs, it would be perfect.

One family Apple ID for: music, movie, book and magazine subscription.
One individual Apple ID for: iCloud, app (app data).

If App Store has family pricing then it would be even better. Oh and Shared Photo Stream on iCloud too.
post #37 of 41
If I'm not mistaken - most if not all of this functionality is already available with the app 'whatsapp'
post #38 of 41
iMessage makes me very happy. I disabled SMS on my iPhone 6 months ago and am much happier without it... anything to show carriers that $0.20/message is outrageous.

I would expect iMessage to make it into Lion 10.7.2 or .3. It would just confuse people to release a desktop client version of it before iOS 5 is released.

I am a bit confused if and how this gets integrated into FaceTime. It seems like it should, along the lines of Skype being capable of messaging, voice only, and video.

The killer feature of course would be if it could automatically redirect SMS to people via email... XXX.XXX.XXXX@ATT.com for example...
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Because no phone number is associated with devices like the iPad and iPod touch, the iMessage client will work much like FaceTime currently does on those devices, and will be linked to an e-mail address. In addition, without access to a phone number, an iPad or iPod touch will not be able to send traditional text messages; that capability remains an iPhone-only feature.

But there IS a phone number associated with an iPad if it's subscribed to a cellular data plan. This would indicate to me that it's possible for it to have SMS capability. Has anyone with the developer beta tried this?
post #40 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wings View Post

But there IS a phone number associated with an iPad if it's subscribed to a cellular data plan. This would indicate to me that it's possible for it to have SMS capability. Has anyone with the developer beta tried this?

While there is a phone number associated with your account if you have an iPhone, it serves ONLY as a username to send iMessages to. You cannot send or receive SMS messages on the Messages app on the iPad.

Also, you don't need a phone number assigned to a device that pulls only data from the network. iPads do not have phone numbers associated with them.
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