I’ve been using Messages on my MacBook Air since last night, and so far, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with it. The program itself replaces iChat, but includes much of the same functionality (AIM, Google Talk, and Bonjour included), plus the ability to send messages to people using our Apple IDs, like how we use Messages on our iPads.
If you’re not familiar with Messages, it’s an app that allows you to send unlimited iMessages to any iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Mac. You can start a conversation on your iPad, and continue it on your iPhone or Mac. You can also use the service to send photos, videos, files, and more.
Visually, the interface of Mac Messages is exactly like Messages on the iPad. There’s a left hand bar that has a list of all your open chats, which are displayed in their entirety on the right hand side of the window. You can open a video chat or a FaceTime chat using the icon in the top right corner.
Tapping the new message button allows you to address a message to anyone in your contact book (presumably synced between all of your devices), so getting in touch with someone is now a simple task no matter what platform you’re using.
It’s handy to have all of my chat accounts in one place, including both AIM and Google Talk, and that’s functionality that would be great to eventually have on the iPad and the iPhone. The one thing I’m missing from Messages on Mac is the ability to delete messages, which is one thing I haven’t quite figured out how to do.
So far, Messages is a great alternative to iChat, and if it’s a service you regularly use, I’d suggest giving the beta a try. You need the latest version of OS X installed, 10.7.3, and then you can download the app from Apple’s website.