Apple’s new iOS 5 software comes out today and will include the new iMessage feature, an application which allows iPhone users to send texts and multimedia messages without being charged.
This new feature is quite similar to RIM’s Blackberry Messenger, better known as BBM, which allows Blackberry owners to communicate via text fee free.
Macworld.com recently reviewed iOS 5 and dedicated a section to iMessage.
According to the site, iMessage allows users to freely send messages, texts, images, videos, a location and contact information over the device’s data connection.
Unlike SMS texts being sent through the cell phone’s voice connection, iMessage allows the user to avoid being charged fees by utilizing the data plan and counting the bytes against the bill rather than against an SMS limit.
The new iMessage feature is built into the existing Messages app which makes it convenient to use and will avoid users needing new instructions to learn how to send a free text.
Apple differentiates between SMS and iMessage by using subtle cues.
When adding a contact who is an iMessage user, their contact bubble and the Send button will appear in blue, plain texts will appear green.
iMessage enabled, iOS 5 running devices will automatically have its users phone number associated with it in the same way FaceTime is linked to a contact.
While sending out an iMessage to multiple recipients, the user must make sure they all have the application or else they could be subject to text messaging charges.
According to Macworld, if one recipient does not have iMessage, the device will automatically send the text out as an SMS.
Much like RIM’s BBM, iMessage allows the sender to be notified when their text is received.
There is also a notification showing when someone is replying to a text sent through iMessage.
This feature does not seem to differentiate much from RIM’s BBM.
It was implemented to compete with the Blackberry, whose only advantage over the iPhone in recent years has been this type of messaging system.