iMessage: A Move in the Right Direction?

There were a vertiable Smörgåsbord of announcements from the WWDC keynote that will effect the iPad, but today I’d like to think about the impact that iMessage will have on the future development of the iPad and the outside perception of the iPad.

What is iMessage, and will it change the way we use our iPads? Will we eventually see calling on the iPad?

Will it be useful?

iMessage

iMessage, as described at the keynote is essentially Apple’s answer to Blackberry messaging. If you’ve ever used WhatsApp for the iPhone, that’s a pretty close representation of what Apple’s aiming at. In fact, as is often the case for some developers following Apple’s announcements, the developers behind WhatsApp are going to have to think quickly to save their app from becoming obsolete.

For those of you who steer well clear of those Blackberry users and their blinking LEDs, the key features of iMessage can be summarised as follows:

  • Unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G to any other iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch user using iOS 5.
  • Built into the messages app – it knows when the other user has iMessage and will use that protocol.
  • Additional functionality – including the ability to send photos, videos, locations, and contacts.
  • Proper group messaging.
  • Delivery receipts, and optional read receipts. You can even see when someone’s typing!
  • Encryption for text messages.
  • Place holding – pick up from where you left off on a different device.

It’s an impressive list of features, although you could argue that Apple is trailing behind with their introduction. Personally, I’m looking forward to being able to use read receipts – sometimes you just need to know whether someone has received and read a text.

iMessage

As a slight aside, it’s pretty shameful the Apple haven’t been able to provide users with a group messaging system until now – and I’m presuming that it’s unique to iMessage, which severely restricts its functionality (unless everyone you know happens to own an iPhone).

On the iPad

What I’m really interested in is how it will change the user experience of the iPad, if at all.

Have Apple simply added the functionality to the iPad because they can? As the use of data for the iMessage avoids any complications with carriers. The Samsung Galaxy Tab can make calls, does iMessage foreshadow calling on the iPad?

I believe that the simple answer to both of those questions is ‘No’.

The more complicated answer, in brief, would be that Apple firmly believes in the additional functionality and freedom that having iMessage on the iPad will enable. As with FaceTime, there are no complications with carriers due to the use of data for the information packets.

If a form of calling, or conference calling (an undoubtedly killer business feature, something that Microsoft would certainly include on their first tablet), ever does come to the iPad it will be through the FaceTime platform – a platform that Apple can control and develop as it sees fit.

My personal opinion is that iMessage on the iPad will, in reality, be more useful than it might first appear.

While the occasions in which you would have your iPad and not your iPhone on your person are surely few, the larger display of the iPad will make more in-depth discussions feasible. Whereas text messaging is a poor substitute for quick emails – iMessages, particularly on the iPad, could be very effectively used for short questions and brief queries.

I don’t know the specifics, but the group messaging feature of iMessage could allow for instant collaborative discussion between a whole group of people – something that could be incredibly useful!

Beyond that, it’s just a nice touch that you’ll be in contact with people even with your phone in your pocket – continuing conversations that you had earlier on the move, but with the luxury of a grown-up touch keyboard.

Your Thoughts

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts – simply post a comment below! Are you looking forward to using iMessage on the iPad? Do you disagree with any of the points I’ve made, it’d be great to get a discussion going!


  • JC

    It’ll be a good thing, but I wish they’d collaborate with RIM and build a bridge to allow BlackBerry Messenger users and iMessage users to interact, agnostic of the device they’re on.

    (And yes I realize SMS is a workaround to that, but it’s not the same thing, esp since there’s no SMS capability on iPad.)

  • Stephen

    I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have a mobile phone but do have 3G iPad so being able to chat to iPhone equipped friends should the need arise will be handy. Nice.

  • http://stephenmdixon.com Stephen Dixon

    I, for one, am looking forward to iMessage. It’s one of those features that will add even more to an already incredible experience that I have when using either my iPhone or my iPad.

    What I don’t understand are comparisons being drawn to BlackBerry Messenger. We’ve all had services such as Windows Live Messenger and it’s many versions on our mobile devices in the past where we can chat via text and send photos to one another so what gives that BlackBerry Messenger has to come in to the discussion?

  • Fishnpix

    As with FaceTime, I’d love to use it to communicate from my iPad/iPhone with my friends using a Mac…

    • http://www.hammyhavoc.com Hammy Havoc

      I am guessing that iMessage will replace iChat later this year.