Apple Messages Beta First Impressions [Review]

Part of Apple’s announcement of OS X Mountain Lion for developers today was also the availability of the download of Messages Beta, which has the following features:

  • Send unlimited iMessages to any Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch (iOS 5 required).
  • Start an iMessage conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
  • Send photos, videos, attachments, contacts, locations, and more.
  • Launch a FaceTime video call and bring the conversation face-to-face.
  • Messages supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts.

This new app replaces iChat on OS X and brings the ability to send iMessages to any iOS device from your Mac. Here’s a quick first look at our experience in testing out Messages Beta.

The install file comes in at 67MB and installing the app is straightforward within OS X Lion. Upon launching Messages Beta you are asked to sign in with your Apple ID:

Here is an option to send ‘read receipts’ or not, plus the ability to add more email addresses for where you can be reached at. I would suggest using your Apple ID as your sole email, as this appears to be the best way to have messages synced across all devices.

Once signed in, you will see this screen that looks iPad-esque in its layout. You can quickly message anyone in your contacts, which will be pulled from iCloud (if that’s where you have your backups synced).

I tested Messages Beta with numerous contacts, either directly to their iPhone or their iMessage email address. Messages received on my Mac also appeared on my iPhone simultaneously in real time. My iPhone would play a sound or vibrate to indicate a message was received, but they would be marked as read automatically. My iMessage ID is the same as my Apple ID.

Here’s an image of the pop up when new chats requests appear on your Mac:

When people sent texts to my iPhone–I was able to respond within Messages Beta on my Mac, and the conversation would continue there. Both my Mac and iPhone would receive all message simultaneously. You can also start FaceTime calls, and also message groups as well. Sending images to recipients was dead easy–just drag an image into the chat window.

Although not perfect, we did have some issues with syncing and ensuring all messages would reach our Mac and iPhones. In the end, ensure you are signed into iMessages within Settings on your iPhone. That helps.

You can download Messages Beta here (OS X 10.7.3 required). Let me know how it works out for you.

Update 1: Just discovered: if you double click a contact’s name in the side Messages pane, your chat window will pop out.

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • I think it would be rather useful if Messages for Mac (and iMessage on iPod touch and iPad) would know if there was also an iPhone connected to the account. Then it could populate SMS messages to all locations, as well as adding the ability to send SMS messages from any of my devices. When sending, it would just have to push it to my phone, which would then send it.

  • Oh, I forgot to mention when you’re typing in your contacts–it shows which phone numbers and emails are ‘iMessage ready’ if that’s what you’re referring to.

  • Anonymous

    I get messages on the MESSAGES app no problem on my Mac if I initiated the message, BUT they do not ever appear on my iPhone. 

    So what gives? If someone iMessages me originally, it just goes to my iPhone

  • Christopher Jones

    They would be messaging you to your mobile ##, and not to your email. If they messaged you at your email, it will go to all your iMessage devices (provided the email is spelt correctly).

    I’ve been running into that issue as well, I’m trying to get a friend to always message me at my email rather than my mobile ##. Makes things easier.

  • Anonymous

    Well thats dumb. Who the heck wants to text message me at my email?
    This will never work then… I bet Jobs would have never approved it this way…

  • Anonymous

    I think I got it working now…. If you add your Apple ID to your Messages settings at “Receive at” then it will since top between them. so i don’t think your friend has to use youu email

  • Cooksruscooksrus

    I was having issues when testing with notifications if iPhone is in screen locked mode, otherwise was instant

  • Cyruskafaiwu

    Well, I have been intense using it. But, it has some glitches. When I turn on my Mac and see some messages to see via the app icon. I open it and read them but the number on the icon doesn’t seem to disappear.

  • Christopher Jones

    That’s interesting, I have my email set up in the “Receive at” setting, but when someone messages me to my phone #, it only goes to my phone. I’ll do some more testing

  • Jbohn

    What I found is that it will only go to your phone if they message your phone. You have to tell people to message you using your AppleID. Maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but it didn’t work for me until I got everyone to use my AppleID. Using my phone number just sent it to my iPhone. Also note – I had to turn iMessage on and off again on my iPhone to get it to successfully work.

  • did anyone else have issues when making it full screen? the icon doesn’t show up to minimize it back to a regular window. i had to quit messages to get it to go back to a normal window instead of the full screen app

  • wcl

    everything works fine except when i message someone’s phone the message comes in to the phone with each word as a separate message.  looks fine on the computer, but a sentence of 5 words shows as 5 one word messages on the phone…

  • Anonymous

     um do you even have any idea what imessages is?

  • Anonymous

    Actually I don’t think YOU have any idea. if you want to comment, be helpful, don’t be an idiot…

  • Anonymous

    So with all the great comments, except for one, I got it working. The thing I still think that needs to be added is when another iMessage person sends me a message, it automatically populates in Messages on the iMac. The only way to works so far is if I get an iMessage on my iPhone, I have to start a new conversation on Messages, and then it updates both the app and the iPhone. Why can’t the original iMessage populate right into Messages app…

  • Headrush13

    He’s right though. Nothing is going to your email.
    Your email address is just used as an identifier to you.
    You can continue to use phone numbers but by ALSO using your email as an identifier, devices not on a cel network (computers, iPads) can be reached also.

  • Jabauto

    what is a little disappointing  is that this beta version does not let you take pics act. like on the iPhone iPad and iPod and send it. there is no little camera button in the chat box