Messages: keep in touch
Messages, Apple’s Mac app for using its iMessage system, as well as services from Google, Yahoo and others, gets some big updates in Yosemite. They’re all linked to iMessage, however – support for other services is increasingly half-hearted.
The most significant addition is the ability to send and receive SMS messages from your Mac. It uses your iPhone as a relay, so you’ll need that switched on, close by, and on the same Wi-Fi network. You also need to be logged into the same iCloud account on both devices.
Soundbites is another addition. It allows you to record audio snippets with your Mac’s microphone and send them over iMessage. They appear in the Messages window as graphical representations of a sound wave inside a speech bubble, and can be played back by anyone using the Messages app on a Mac or iOS device. Exchange Soundbites with someone, and your Messages window fills up with speech bubbles containing sound waves, rather than text. The audio quality isn’t exactly what you’d call brilliant, sounding more like a telephone call (perhaps because of the degree of compression applied to the audio file), but it’s good enough to hear what’s been said.
On the topic of speech bubbles, these now appear flat in Messages, to match the speech bubbles in iOS (rather than the glassy textured bubbles in Mavericks).
Group messaging has also been beefed up. A new Details button allows you to share your location with others in the group, using Find My Friends behind the scenes. Do that and a map appears with your friends’ locations marked on it. You can also start phone calls or FaceTime sessions with individual group members from within Messages, and you can give the group chat session a specific name.
If you want to leave a group conversation, you can do that by clicking Leave Conversation. The Do Not Disturb button switches off new message notifications.