iChat is the built in instant messaging app that is bundled with OS X Lion. It has been bundled with the Mac operating system for a long time. The new Messages app will change that in OS X Mountain Lion.
SMS, Messages, iMessages.
To consider the history you have to look at the evolution of the messaging app bundled with iOS. It has evolved, first a name change from SMS to Messages, and then the addition of a built in iOS device to iOS device communication service iMessages.
Anyone would have asked, why can’t they add iMessages to iChat? Or, why don’t they put iChat on the iPhone. The question is answered, and if ever so subltly by the name: Messages – isn’t that the name of the app on iOS devices?
What it is
Mac keeps the conversation going. Messages does everything iChat does, and so much more. For starters, it comes with iMessage. And just like iMessage in iOS, it lets you send unlimited messages to anyone on a Mac or an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.
It works pretty seemlessly with the OS. It logs you in to your accounts you already have set up, and pulls your address book contacts, so that you know who is available via iMessages.
Send photos, videos, documents, and contacts — even send messages to a group. You can see when your message has been delivered and when someone’s typing a reply. Turn on read receipts, and they’ll see when you’ve read a message. With end-to-end encryption, your messages stay safe and private.
Why it’s good
I’ve been a long time Google Voice user. One of the main things I loved about Google Voice was that it allowed me to send and recieve text messages at my desktop.
And you can start a conversation on your Mac and pick it up on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. So nothing is left unsaid.
When I found out about Messages it was the first thing I downloaded. It’s slick, and it’s fun. There are still a few bugs, but that’s why Apple called it beta.
If you’re an iChat user, and you have lots of friends with iMessages. This is going to be one of your favorite new features.