Last week’s iOS 5 preview included an improved version of iOS Message app called iMessage. The key difference between the two is that iMessage now works across all iOS devices, using the Apple ID as the identifier for those devices without a phone number (iPad and iPod Touch).
As described in the Cult of Mac hands-on review of iMessage, a few changes were made to the app to ensure it works seamlessly between different types of contacts, sending SMS or iMessages when appropriate. Users don’t need to worry about how the messages will get to their destinations, they just need to type and send, iOS will do the rest.
The app assumes by default that all your contacts are ‘SMS based’ and once it figures out that a contact has iOS 5 it updates the Address Book with the new details. After doing this recognition the app changes very subtly a few UI elements. The color of the outbound messages changes (standard green for SMS or blue for iMessage), ‘Text Message’ on the text input field becomes ‘iMessage’.
Really interesting this progressive disclosure implementation in the app, and although not everybody will notice these small progressive changes, it’s just a clear example of the level of detail Apple puts in their software.