Feb 23, 2012 (09:02 AM EST)
Mac Messages Beta Consolidates Many Apps
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
Apple released Messages Beta for all of its desktop and laptop PCs on Feb. 12. The new app replaces iChat and potentially other messaging programs from Apple and others.
The beta currently requires the latest version of Mac OS X Lion, 10.7.3. So if you're not running the latest version of Lion, make sure you run a software update, or better yet, head on over to the Apple support page and download the Client Combo update to get the latest version of Lion. Please note that if you like the app and wish to use it after the beta period expires, you're going to need to upgrade to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Messages will run only on Mountain Lion after it is officially released.
Setting up Messages Beta
Instant messaging and video chat support
With the release of Messages Beta, Apple is integrating FaceTime into its standardized IM and chat client. You can now start a FaceTime video chat with the person you're trading IMs with directly from iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, or another chat app provided your friend has the same software. iMessage users on an iDevice will need to be connected on Wi-Fi for this to work (although this is nothing new--FaceTime has always insisted on Wi-Fi).
Messaging across devices
As a quick aside, although Messages appears and behaves like a nearly finished application, it is clear that there is still some work to be done. Once I've got a conversation started with someone, I would expect that conversation to stay in the left pane unless and until I remove the conversation from my Mac. Opening and closing the program window doesn't do this consistently, though the complete conversation history is consistently pulled over each time a new message is initiated and sent. I've noticed that if the other party initiates the conversation, then the conversation shows up in the left hand pane of the program window, but again, inconsistently.
For a beta app, Messages delivers a really great iMessage experience. The app pulls in the entire conversation from all of your iDevices, and allows you communicate with all of your contacts in a clean, easy-to-use desktop interface. As a replacement for iChat, it does a decent job, although the interface between iMessage and your other IM accounts is kept completely separate. This might be good and bad, as it definitely keeps their spam-ridden chocolate out of my nice iOS-based peanut butter. However, I would like to see some kind of UI consolidation, and we might in future releases or even in the released version that comes with Mountain Lion. As this is an early release, it's clear that much if not the entire enchilada could change.Price: Free. Requires OS X 10.7.3. Released version will only run on OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)