I chat, I message

Since I stopped using Windows as an OS for personal use, almost four years ago, I also gave up using IM chat programs. Back then, I was a fairly big user of MSN Messenger, but when I found the Mac version at that point to be flaky to say the least, I ditched it completely. And I didn’t miss it at all. Apart from using Skype for remote work purposes, I’ve shied away from almost all other chat programs.

On Thursday last week, I had read an article on Lifehacker about IM app Adium, and various plugins that were available for it. I decided to fire it up and connect it to my Google and Facebook accounts. To give me something to compare it against, I did the same with iChat – an app I’ve never clicked on since the day I got my first MacBook Pro. I found both apps to be pretty much similar in functionality, certainly for my uses, there was nothing to compel me to use one over the other.

Later that day, Apple announced Mountain Lion, their upcoming version of OS X. Included in this version will be a number of iOS-like features. One of them being Messages, the new version of iChat. The beta was released that day. Quite the coincidence I thought. Messages has one very compelling feature: integration with iMessage for iOS. This means that any iMessage conversations on iPad or iPhone can be carried on in Messages and vice versa. Having used this for a few days I’m certainly liking it. It puts iMessage at the centre of instant communication for Apple users. More importantly it means I can use the full size keyboard rather than having to tap away on the iPhone screen all the time!

This kind of app convergence across desktop and mobile devices is certainly seems to be the way forward. While it has it’s detractors, I’m all for it, and excited by it. Although it could do with some consistency – will the iMessage app on iOS open up and start supporting other IM protocols, such as Jabber and AIM? I’d like to think so.

If instant messaging becomes ubiquitous across devices and operating systems, the question begs, where does this leave email and SMS? 

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