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First Look: Messages for Mac

post #1 of 42
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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 ]
post #2 of 42
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.
post #3 of 42
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.
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 #4 of 42
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.
post #5 of 42
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.
post #6 of 42
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.
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 #7 of 42
There's already Growl and Auto-resize scripts for it:
http://tiagodovale.deviantart.com/ar...Beta-285399682
post #8 of 42
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????

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post #9 of 42
Die, SMS Messaging! Die!
post #10 of 42
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?) =)
post #11 of 42
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?
post #12 of 42
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
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post #13 of 42
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.
post #14 of 42
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.

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post #15 of 42
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.
post #16 of 42
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?

post #17 of 42
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?

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post #18 of 42
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.
post #19 of 42
Im enjoying all the almost-entirely-blacked-out screenshots in this thread
post #20 of 42
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?
post #21 of 42
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.

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post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

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?

I know for a fact that I have always had mine off. And that wouldn't explain how this appeared on a clean install of Lion with NOTHING carried over, particularly when my mother and I have had hundreds of iChat conversations since that one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Interesting. I didn't know AIM kept a history server side.

The worst part is that this REAL BREACH OF PRIVACY will NEVER receive the same media attention that Apple's nonexistent and completely unintentional/harmless 'breaches' will.
post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

The worst part is that this REAL BREACH OF PRIVACY will NEVER receive the same media attention that Apple's nonexistent and completely unintentional/harmless 'breaches' will.

This Contacts issue didn't really get much press for being a real security issue.

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post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

This Contacts issue didn't really get much press for being a real security issue.

Oh, I wasn't talking about that specifically; they've had other problems in the past (that I've seen on TV news, even) that weren't of any real concern to any users that have been overblown by the media.
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

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?

I'm on a new computer with a clean OS. EVen if they were logged locally, they shouldn't be here.

And no, this is google Talk, not AIM.
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

And no, this is google Talk, not AIM.

Oh, well, Google keeps those forever, then. That's probably not an error.

Dang it, now I don't have any idea why mine does this.
post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Oh, well, Google keeps those forever, then. That's probably not an error.

Dang it, now I don't have any idea why mine does this.

That's irrelevant. iChat/Messages don't have access to Google's chat histories, which can be selectively deleted anytime from within gmail. The only place these can be pulled from is Apple's servers. I find it very strange they would be there in the first place.
post #28 of 42
At least you guys can see *something*. Messages worked for me for a while then started crashing on start. Even after a reboot, it crashes every time I run it, after about 3 seconds.
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

So you want iChat, FaceTime and iMessages to be separate apps? Why????

I am a minimal guy who does text chats mostly with the odd photo or screenshot, never need video chat, nor other features. I wanted Messages for iPad literally replicated 100% on the Mac. I don't need anything else. And if I ever did for some reason I could always open iChat or FaceTime or Skype. I just want messages. The app for Mac that I want would be called iMessage. I'll survive, but I'd rather have what I'd rather have, you know.
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post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I am a minimal guy who does text chats mostly with the odd photo or screenshot, never need video chat, nor other features. I wanted Messages for iPad literally replicated 100% on the Mac. I don't need anything else. And if I ever did for some reason I could always open iChat or FaceTime or Skype. I just want messages. The app for Mac that I want would be called iMessage.

You get that with Messages. All you have to do is no add any accounts besides iMessages in the settings. It's that simple. You only see the split-pan window with your list of iMessages conversations on the left and your conversations on the right. It's pretty much exactly like the iPad app.

You say you want no options for preferences but that's just silly and anal retentive. Imagine the complaints if Apple did that with Mac apps, which wouldn't even happen because Messages has preferences under Settings in iOS. Simply don't choose Preferences from the Menu Bar. You can even keep it as a full screen app if you want to make it more iPad-esque.

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post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

That's irrelevant. iChat/Messages don't have access to Google's chat histories

Do you know that? If Messages can pull down your list of Google Chat contacts when you set up a Google Chat account and your AIM buddies when you log in with your AIM account, why couldn't it pull down your saved chats?

Quote:
The only place these can be pulled from is Apple's servers.

That's just not the case. That's probably the least likely scenario. It's probably just pulling them from their original source: AIM's secret evil storage of our stuff for AIM chats, Google's repository for Google Chat, and iMessage logs for iMessages.
post #32 of 42
Just a little tip for people looking to make sure their conversations are syncing across Mac and iOS devices...

Make sure you have your phone setup properly in the Messages App settings and matches your email address (Apple ID) used on your Mac when you setup Messages Beta.

On your iPhone go to Settings --> Messages --> Receive At --> Caller ID and then select your email address associated with your Apple ID instead of your phone #.

This makes it so when someone messages you on your phone and you reply that it will sync across all devices. Otherwise it will treat it as two different conversations.

Also it's a good idea for people who want to message you to choose your email address and not your phone #.

It's kind of a pain that Apple doesn't automatically merge the phone # and email address and sync, but it is Beta software and I'm sure they'll add that going forward. Currently it's kind of confusing.
post #33 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryanhauer View Post

Just a little tip for people looking to make sure their conversations are syncing across Mac and iOS devices...

Make sure you have your phone setup properly in the Messages App settings and matches your email address (Apple ID) used on your Mac when you setup Messages Beta.

On your iPhone go to Settings --> Messages --> Receive At --> Caller ID and then select your email address associated with your Apple ID instead of your phone #.

This makes it so when someone messages you on your phone and you reply that it will sync across all devices. Otherwise it will treat it as two different conversations.

Also it's a good idea for people who want to message you to choose your email address and not your phone #.

It's kind of a pain that Apple doesn't automatically merge the phone # and email address and sync, but it is Beta software and I'm sure they'll add that going forward. Currently it's kind of confusing.

Thanks, I had that same confusion.
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

I'm on a new computer with a clean OS. EVen if they were logged locally, they shouldn't be here.

And no, this is google Talk, not AIM.

I turned Gtalk's logging off shortly after googletalk started. You can wipe the archived chats. Now if Google really wipes them in another story.
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

The worst part is that this REAL BREACH OF PRIVACY will NEVER receive the same media attention that Apple's nonexistent and completely unintentional/harmless 'breaches' will.

That's the beauty of this beta release...
Apple discovered this issue and rather than them doing something about it behind the scenes, they released it so the public would be outraged and congress will send letters to AOL, Google, etc. asking for an explanation.
post #36 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

That's the beauty of this beta release...
Apple discovered this issue and rather than them doing something about it behind the scenes, they released it so the public would be outraged and congress will send letters to AOL, Google, etc. asking for an explanation.

And then after its very clearly AOL/Googles fault and Apples the one driving improvement, the media's ad-bait headlines will nevertheless say Congress Forced to Intervene in Yet Another Apple Privacy Disaster!
post #37 of 42
Go to your home folder -> Documents -> iChats. That is where the chats that are being searched live.
post #38 of 42

"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."

It appears that you have to open the message app once for it to show incoming iMessages.
If you close the message app, new iMessages still show as a badge on the icon in the Dock.
(Note that Message should start automatically if you logoff with the app active, it is also possible to explicitly set "Open at Login" from within the Dock icon.)

J.
post #39 of 42
I tried it yesterday on two of my Macs and ended up uninstalling it. From my wife's iPhone, the iMessage text would arrive to both of my iPhone and my Mac because I registered the same iCloud ID account with i(Messages) on both devices. However, from my iPhone, the iMessage text would only arrive to my wife's Mac or my wife's iPhone even though the same iCloud account was registered on both of her devices. Additionally, she would have two threads from me on her iPhone depending on whether I sent her an iMessage from my iPhone or my Mac. The last straw was that when I tried to sort this all out and removed the iCloud account registration from my iPhone's iMessage settings, the iPhone could no longer enable iMessages by registering its phone number, and I was left without the iMessage functionality altogether on my iPhone.

When I uninstalled the Messages application from both of my Macs and rebooted them, I was again able to register my iPhone's iMessage app with the phone number.

I have also seen the issue of old messages showing up on my Macs even after they were completely removed from my iPhones. Apple is definitely storing iMessages on their servers, and because of the bug in the Messages app for the Mac, this has just become very obvious. The old conversations just keep coming back.

I am going to stay away from the Messages on the Macs until Apple releases Mountain Lion next summer. Hopefully, they will work out all of their bugs. It's not worth the hassle for me right now to continue to "use" this half-baked solution. However, I am happy that half-a-year from now, we will be able to use every computing device in the household to send text messages to any device. I am also hoping that there will be a way to broadcast a message to every device that has the same iMessage account ID registered so that you can just send a text and know that it will reach the other person regardless on which device he/she is using at the time.
post #40 of 42
When you uninstall Messages (or, say, when the beta expires id you dont upgrade to Mountain Lion) does the iChat app return?

Im more likely to try Messages if the iChat safety net is easy to get back to!

TIA
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