Messages Beta for Mac OS X is here.
It is meant to seamlessly bridge the text communication gap between your iPhone and your Mac desktop and accomplishes this goal in a simple, elegant manner.
Let’s walk through the fairly simple set-up process.
1. Make sure your operating system software is up to date. Messages Beta requires Mac OS X Lion Version 10.7.3 (sorry Snow Leopard folks – get a move on and upgrade already!)
2. Download Messages Beta here.
3. Open and install. The install process is standard and the only thing you’ll need to enter is your Apple ID in order to take advantage of the new iMessage features. Otherwise you’ll just have a fancy new iChat interface.
4. We’ll assume you made it through the standard install. Now stop and admire shiny new blank Messages Beta interface. Oooh. Aaah.
5. You’ll notice a blue circle with a white plus sign in the upper right hand corner of the New Message screen. If you click this you should see a drop-down menu of all your contacts (hopefully synced via iCloud).
Unfortunately there is no way to see which of your contacts are eligible for an iMessage. This seems like a fairly large oversight and I hope Apple will correct it before the OS Mountain Lion launch.
6. Navigate to a contact you are certain is eligible for an iMessage and you’ll see a small blue conversation bubble next to the number.
7. Compose your message and fire it off!
8. Notice the results.
9. You can even try and send a test response to yourself but the results seem a little buggy. It took a few minutes for the response to go through and when it did finally appear the iPhone had already recorded it as not being delivered. Oh well, it is beta after all.
Messages Beta for Mac is not difficult to set up or even use but I don’t see this as a must-have tool. While the iPhone has a huge market share and it’s likely that more than a few of your friends are iMessage eligible, it is still a ‘walled garden’ community and therefore the application is limited. It’s an especially difficult option for me to adopt since I primarily use Google Voice.
All that being said, the ability to move from one platform to another while carrying on a conversation within iMessage is a nice, albiet niche, benefit.