Messages for OS X Yosemite

When iOS 8 launches for public consumption next Wednesday, text message relaying will not work immediately from day one because Apple plans to enable the feature in October, according to the just-refreshed iOS 8 webpage detailing the Continuity feature that was first spotted Friday morning by iLongue.

Now listed as ”coming in October”, the delayed launch coincides nicely with an upcoming October release of the free OS X Yosemite update. A discussion thread at MacRumors corroborates iLounge’s findings, suggesting Apple has disabled SMS relaying on its servers in the past couple of days, likely until Yosemite is officially released.

This development isn’t surprising to us given that iOS 8 and Yosemite are more dependent on each other by Continuity than previously.

It’s interesting that Apple has gone through a few iterations before settling on a final name for this feature. The first couple of betas referred to the feature as “Continuity SMS” until Beta 5 came along and replaced mentions of “Continuity SMS” with “SMS Relay”.

iOS 8 Gold Master has once more re-christened the feature from “SMS Relay” to the more logical ”Text Message Forwarding”. Speaking of which, the gold master edition of iOS 8 has also disabled Siri’s Shazam-powered song-matching feature.

That the Shazam feature seems to have been disabled on Apple’s servers rather than removed completely from iOS 8 tell us it’s only temporary, until Apple flips the switch back again following iOS 8’s release next Wednesday.

Text Message Forwarding (or SMS Relay, or whatever you want to call it) uses iOS 8’s Continuity capabilities to relay text messages from your iPhone to other iPad, iPod touch and Mac devices. Text messages appear right inside the stock iOS 8/Yosemite Messages application.

iOS 8 (SMS Relay, iPhone and iPad 001)

Not only can you elect to receive text messages on these non-SMS-capable devices, you can also send SMS replies right from your Mac, iPad or iPod touch. In a nutshell, the feature uses Continuity to beam the contents of your message to an authorized iPhone which in turn sends it over the cellular network using the SMS protocol.

“So when a friend texts you from any kind of phone, you can respond using whichever device is most convenient,” Apple explains. “You can also start a conversation from your iPad or Mac by clicking a phone number in Safari, Contacts, or Calendar”.

Having been using iOS 8 and Yosemite on my production hardware since day one, I must admit that SMS relay strikes me as a killer feature, one definitely worth waiting for.

Imagine your daily computing without the frustration of those green chat bubbles appearing on your iPhone, but not on Macs or iPads. Users need and expect from Apple a unified messaging solution so the ability to communicate on any device, using both iMessage and SMS, shall certainly be viewed as a huge boon for novice users who are not necessarily tech literate.

In Apple’s parlance, “it just works”.

Are you looking forward to this feature?

[Apple via iLounge]