/ Technology

Apple’s iMessage won’t kill off texts

Apple's iMessage

It may have escaped your attention (although Apple desperately tried to make as much noise about it as possible) but Apple recently announced a new update to its iPhone software. One feature hopes to kill off the text.

The latest update (iOS5) apparently comes with over 200 new features, all of which would normally probably only be of interest to geeks, like me.

However, Apple also snuck in a new messaging service that some have speculated could spell the end for the text message.

You wouldn’t know it if you listened to how Apple described it, but there’s nothing new in iMessage. Pretty much a clone of BlackBerry’s BBM, it’s an instant messaging system for sending texts, pictures and video to other iOS users.

The way it’s integrated means that when you send a text to another iPhone user with iOS 5 installed, it will automatically switch to an iMessage. This could be a little frustrating for those with an overly generous text allowance and a limited data bundle.

Is iMessage as good as it sounds?

The idea that this will kill off text messages, as some have argued, is a little absurd in my opinion, for two reasons.

Firstly, calling the service free ignores the fact that it runs over the networks as data – something that is becoming more valuable to users than their SMS allowance.

Chances are if you’ve got an iPhone on contract you’re already paying through the nose for texts and data. And you’ve usually got a healthy wadge of the former, while the latter quickly runs out. Yes, iMessage will also run over wi-fi, but I for one am not willing to go find a hotspot every time I want to send a message.

Secondly, it’s based on the idea that everyone will own an iPhone. Aside from the fact that my job wouldn’t exist if there was only one phone, I find the concept of a ‘one phone world’ more than a little depressing.

The text’s days might be numbered with internet-enabled smartphones becoming more popular, but not until an instant messenger works on all mobile operating systems. What’s that you say? Google Talk? Been around on mobiles since 2006? Oh.


well, if Mr Jobs is anyone to be believed Apple also ‘invented’ the cloud.

What he’s very, very good at is taking other people’s ideas – and wrapping them in lots of fluffy, gushy marketing or prettier packaging and somehow convincing us that our lives will be much simpler from now on if we buy his stuff.

Now if Apple could produce an iPhone with a battery life of at least a week (or the battery could be swapped for a fresh one) I might be interested in the iPhone and iMessage.

BriLou says:
22 July 2011

If Apple could produce a phone with a battery life of 48 hours i’d be happy, never mind a week!!

Tell me about it – and you’re not alone.https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/battery-life-portable-technology/

I reckon I could squeeze out about 48 hours of my HTC… if I wasn’t using it.

John Ryan says:
17 August 2011

Despite being an avid fan of both the iPhone and iPad I must admit I’m not convinced by the Apple instant messaging system.

Aside from the fact you can only contact people on an iPhone, why would I need yet another device with which to contact others?

Sceptical but hopeful.

William Barrowman says:
18 October 2011

Why when someone supposed expert writes something about Apple do they seem to come up with so much ignorance.

iMessage works on all iOS devices, not just iPhones, which means all iPod touches, iPads and iPhones, you can send photos, videos, locations, contacts and text, (unlike SMS), and of course you can set it to default to SMS if you don’t want to use iMessage (for whatever odd reason). The graceful thing about iMessage is that it seamlessly switches between the two services, so to the user it’s not “yet another service” to learn or install, and so is great for group conversations, you can also start a conversation on one device (iPad for example) and finish it on another (iPhone when out etc). – I really can’t see any reason to criticise the service at all.

And regarding the battery life of smart phones, if you switched all the “cool” stuff off on your iPhone for example, and essentially turned it back into only a phone, you’d easily get a few of days of standby on it.

candez says:
21 October 2011

I don’t think anyone from Apple ever suggested that iMessage is going to kill off texting. That would be silly, for many reasons. (The people suggesting that were probably the same ones who said that Facebook messaging would replace email, which I think is equally silly.) However, I am excited about iMessage because it will allow me to drop the expensive unlimited texting add-on from my cell bill, and replace it with a fairly meager text allotment. As far as iMessage using data, how much data will 1000 texts use – 30kb? That’s hardly going to eat through my data allowance. Now, if you frequently send photos through text, that’s a different story, but for those who just send actual text in texts, it can be a welcome money-saver.

As far as battery life goes, I typically find myself near a plug-in at least once a day (In fact, there is even an electrical outlet in the room where I sleep!), so as long as my battery gets me through a full day of active use, I’m content. If you want a phone whose battery lasts a week without a charge, get an old-style clamshell. If you want a smart phone that is basically a computer that makes calls, resign yourself to the fact that you’ll need to plug it in to an outlet once in a while. At this point in technology, you won’t get both the bells and whistles AND the week-long battery life (at least not without making your phone twice the size and 5 times the weight). Eventually we’ll get there, but unfortunately we’re not quite there yet.