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.