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iMessage For The iOS 5: Why You Will Love This New SMS Messaging Feature

When the much anticipated iOS 5 was unveiled by Apple at Monday's WWDC, the company sure didn't waste any time highlighting the features of their upcoming mobile operating system. The iOS 5 no doubt has a chock-full of new features, and among those features the last one that was presented was the iMessage. This certainly sounds like an interesting feature, but what exactly does it do?

iOS 5 iMessage
According to the Apple website:

With iMessage, we’ve created a new messaging service for all iOS 5 users. You can send unlimited text messages via WiFi or 3G from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to anyone with one of those devices. iMessage is built into the Messages app so you can send text, photos, videos, locations and contacts. Keep everyone in the loop with group messaging. Track your messages with delivery receipts and optional read receipts, see when someone’s typing and enjoy secure encryption for text messages. Even start a conversation on one of your iOS devices and pick up where you left off on another.

By reading that, you surely have a couple of questions in your mind. Such as, do messages sent through iMessage would deduct from my text messaging plan? What if the recipient doesn't have iMessage? Can I send to someone who doesn't own an Apple device? These are just some of the questions that remains to be answered.

First of all, iMessage is a proprietary messaging protocol designed by Apple themselves. So no, unfortunately you cannot send a message to an Android or Blackberry owner. Apple could turn iMessage into an open platform in order for that to be possible but that's a scenario that you probably wouldn't want to hold your breath for.

iOS 5 iMessage Across Devices
But for the good bits, iMessage is built-in right into the default Messages App. You just need to install iOS 5 and activate the service. No more installation of a separate app and you need not learn a new text messaging interface because you will be utilizing the default Messages App. When you first enable iMessage, it will automatically have your phone number and Apple ID registered to the service.

Basically, iMessage lets you communicate with another device for free, granted of course that their device runs iOS 5. Yes, you read that right, you will be able to send SMS for free. iMessage integrates beautifully with the iOS 5, because the OS can ping a contact and determine if he or she runs the same OS and have the iMessage option enabled.

iOS 5 Sending Regular SMS and iMessage
In the above screenshot, if you are sending an SMS to someone with no iMessage capability, the "Send" button will be displayed in green. But if the recipient runs an iOS 5 and had iMessage enabled, the "Send" button will be displayed in blue. Messages that are sent without iMessage will be counted against your SMS text messaging plan. In addition, if you create a new message and browse through your address book, iOS 5 will also display a blue chat bubble next to the contact's name, indicating that they have iMessage enabled. iOS 5 will also have the ability to sync your messages across your iOS devices.

As you can see, iMessage is definitely a very interesting feature that has the potential to be very popular. After all, who doesn't want to be able to send SMS messages for free? iOS 5 is set for a fall release so we will see if Apple updates this promising feature by then. [via 9to5Mac]

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