Everyone who has an iPhone will be familiar with the Messages app on the iPhone, but did you know that it can send instant messages over the internet, and SMS and MMS messages over the phone network? How do you know which typer of message you are sending? Will it cost money to send a message to someone? Here’s how to find out.
iMessage is an instant messaging service run by Apple and it is available on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac. It works over the internet like other instant messaging services and it is therefore free of charge. You may get a certain number of free SMS messages a month in your contract, but if the limit is low you can exceed it and then be charged. MMS, which is used to send photos, is not free and it can be quite expensive to send messages.
The question is, when you send a message on an iPhone, how do you know whether it will be sent as a free iMessage, or whether it will be sent as an SMS or MMS, possibly incurring charges?
It is actually quite simple, although you may not have noticed. Open Messages and create a new message. Enter the recipient in the To box, tap in the message box ready to enter the message to send and take a look at the colour of Send button. If it is blue then the message will be sent using iMessage over the internet and will therefore be free. If the Send button is green the message will be sent using SMS or MMS, possibly incurring charges depending on your mobile phone contract.
When you select a contact, Messages checks to see whether the person has registered their phone and email address with Apple. If they have, it uses iMessage, but if they haven’t then SMS/MMS is used.
Suppose you send a message to two or more people at the same time - a group message. If everyone has iPhones you will see that the Send button remains blue, indicating that the messages will be sent as an iMessage. but if one of the recipients does not have an iPhone, the Send button is green indicating SMS/MMS.
Messages can be sent to a Wi-Fi-only iPad or an Apple Mac even though they aren't phones because they have iMessage installed as an app. Sending a message to an iPad or Mac will therefore only ever go as an iMessage and SMS/MMS is not possible. You don’t need an iPhone to use iMessages and an Apple ID (used to sign into iTunes) on an iPad or Mac is fine.
If you want to force the iPhone to always send SMS messages for some reason, go to Settings, Messages and turn on the Send as SMS switch. Tap Send and Receive, tap your Apple ID and sign out of iMessage.
You can actually send iMessages to email addresses too, although this may depend on your phone company. Create a new message and tap in the To box to add a contact. Instead of tapping their phone number, tap their email address. You’ll be able to send a message because your carrier will convert it to an email message. (Charges may apply, so take care.)
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 20 February 2014