WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

Summary:iMessage is completely carrier agnostic and since Apple controls the server -- not AT&T, Verizon or any other carrier -- it's completely free. Let's hope that Apple rolls it our for Lion as well.

San Francisco -- Its not easy to pick a favorite new feature of iOS 5, announced here at WWDC yesterday, but iMessage is on my short list.

For the unfamiliar, iMessage is Apple's new SMS/MMS client app that will ship with iOS 5 in the Fall. Pictured at right are some iMessages displayed on the lock screen with the new "slide to reply" slider.

But why is iMessage significant?

iMessage allows iOS 5 users to send text messages, photos, videos and contact information to a person or a group over Wi-Fi or 3G and because it's not tied to a carrier or network it just works with all iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch).

iMessages are automatically synced to all your iOS 5 devices, making it easy to follow your conversations across your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iMessage also features delivery and read receipts, typing indication and secure end-to-end encryption.

But easily the most significant aspect of iMessage is the fact that it's completely carrier agnostic. In other words, Apple controls the server -- not AT&T, Verizon or any other carrier -- which means that it's completely free.

This means that the exorbitant SMS/MMS fees carriers charge are thing of the past -- when you message other iOS 5 users. Since you also text people that aren't using iOS, Apple built iMessage into its native iOS Messages app transparently so messages sent to iOS 5 users are free, but you can still text your friends on Blackberries, WinMo and WebOS from within the same app.

Although Apple's only announced iMessage for iOS 5 so far, I suspect that it won't be long before it rolls out for Mac OS X Lion as well. Think of it as FaceTime for messages.

So, is iMessage a Blackberry Messenger killer?

See related coverage:

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Mobile OS, Mobility


Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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