Wireless phones were capable of sending text messages long before the iPhone came along, thanks to the Simple Messaging Service protocol. However, the iPhone’s ease of use, with a full on-screen keyboard, visual display of an entire conversation and one-click access to send photos via MMS, was a quantum leap over the “triple tap,” single-message SMS display of old-fashioned phones. Apple upped the ante with the iMessage service, which enables unlimited texting between Apple devices without messaging charges.
Tap the Messages app. If Messages opens in a conversation, tap “Messages” at the top left corner to back up to the main Messages screen where you can either choose an existing conversation or create a new message. Tap the “New Message” icon to start a new message.
Add a recipient by tapping the “plus sign” icon and choosing a contact, or begin typing the name, phone number or email address of the recipient. Messages will show you any matches in your Contacts or existing conversations, and you can tap the contact you want to use. To add multiple recipients, tap the “plus sign” icon again and choose another or press “Return” on the on-screen keyboard and add the new recipient.
Enter the message you want to send in the message field beside the “Send” button. To add a photo or video, tap the camera icon. When you’re ready, press “Send.” Your message will appear on the right side of the screen in a blue balloon if it’s an iMessage conversation or in a green balloon if it’s an SMS or MMS conversation.
View replies on the left side of the screen and under your message. If you’re using iMessage, the status of the last message you sent is on the right. When the message is received by the recipient’s phone, the word “Delivered” appears under it. If your recipient has enabled the “Send Read Receipts” option, “Delivered” will change to “Read,” along with a time stamp for when the recipient read the message. During an iMessage conversation, you may also see a balloon with three dots, which indicates the recipient is typing a new message.
Continue the conversation on the same screen. IMessage lists your conversations on its main screen, and you can tap a conversation to send a new message to the recipient or swipe to either side and tap “Delete” to delete the conversation.
If you want to use iMessage using your Apple ID email address or you disabled iMessage, you can find your iMessage settings by tapping “Settings” on your iPhone’s home screen and tapping “Messages.” You can choose whether you want to send text messages using your phone number or an email address, and whether you want to send messages using your phone company’s SMS service when iMessage can’t be used.
If a message can’t be sent using iMessage and appears with an exclamation point icon, tap the icon to try sending again using iMessage or double-tap the icon to send it as an SMS message.
You can send SMS messages to any phone number or email address, although the recipient’s ability to receive messages depends on his device and software capabilities.
The iMessage feature uses your iPhone’s Wi-Fi or data connection to send messages. If data both Wi-Fi and data are unavailable or the recipient isn’t using an Apple device, you must use SMS to send messages, and your wireless company’s SMS charges will apply. If you enable the “Send as SMS” option in your Messages settings, this may happen without warning. If your iPhone’s data plan is capped, use Wi-Fi for your iMessage conversations whenever possible to limit data usage and prevent overage charges.
Information in this article applies to iPhone 5 and iOS 6.0. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.