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iMessage – a grown up version of BBM

October 14, 2011 Leave a comment
"Leopard" Icons in Black

Image via Wikipedia

So… I updated to iOS5 yesterday morning, the thing I wanted to try out most of all was iMessage and in all honesty it took me a while to figure out how to use it… because I was already. Now this for me is the perfect example of good design, it should be so simple that to use it there is no learning curve – or in fact no learning at all.

BBM has been the big success story for BlackBerry – particularly when it comes to getting teenagers to use it as BBM provides free texting, the trouble with it is that you BBM identity is based on your device PIN which means if you switch devices you have to add all your contacts again.  This has been made easier due to the backup/restore services however it still sends out an invite request to all my contacts. I seem to constantly get new invites from people who have lost, replaced or updated their BB.

The next issues is that it is an extra app to use which means that for those new to the blackberry they have to work out how to use it, OK so it isn’t like learning how to do open heart surgery but it still requires going onto another application and then adding contacts.

So what is so good about iMessages – The genius of it is twofold:

1. To begin with you don’t know you are using it, if a person in your contact list as an iPhone (or other iOS device) running it then an iMessage is sent by default and sms is used as a ‘backup’, I can see the delivery state and if the other person begins responding you can see it – so you can’t see if a message has been read but I’m not certain that is a killer feature anyway.

2. it works on multiple devices and follows you around based on where your account is in use rather than your device PIN. This means I stay who I am and if I get a new phone or device it will work on there too without having to do anything or requesting to be added to people’s contacts.

How Apple could improve it further would be to add it as a feature to iTunes or better yet make this accessible from other platforms and devices too but that may well be too big an ask.

A few years ago I used to talk to people about how one day all our phone numbers would be replaced using ‘presence’ and how UC would transform how we would live and work, that has failed to materialise (yet), for many reasons but steps like this will begin to make it a reality.