What is iMessage? How Does It Work? Explained

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In this article, I’m going to tell you exactly what iMessage is, how it
works and what you can do when it’s not working.

What is an iMessage?

iMessage is a free, secure encrypted messaging service for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.iMessage
is Apple’s own messaging service. The Cupertino based brand introduced iMessage in 2011.

iMessage can be called an “Over The Top” (OTT) service that does not require a cellular data connection. Your messages can either be sent over cellular data or Wi-Fi connection
. If your device is not connected to a Wi-Fi network, your message will be sent over cellular data. If you use Wi-Fi to send or receive iMessages, it’s free of charge. As
such, iMessage may use your
cellular data
 which will be deducted from your cellular data plan. And iMessage may consume huge amount of data particularly if you are sending photos, audio, or videos via iMessage.
Conversely, iMessages you send over cellular are not part of your monthly text message allowance if your cellular data plan sets a limit.

Regular text messages (SMS or MMS) require a cellular data plan with text-message abilities. Wireless carriers usually offers three types of text message plans as listed below:

  1. Unlimited text plan. As the title says, you can send unlimited text messages.
  2. Limited text plan. In this type of plan, you have a messaging allowance, usually monthly, that means, you can send a certain number of text messages.
  3. And pay per message. Meaning your carrier will charge you for every message you send or receive.

Irrespective of your data plan, you can send unlimited number of iMessages.

How to send an iMessage

To be able to send and receive iMessage, you need to have Apple’s Messages app on your device running iOS 5 or higher, watchOS 1 or higher or OS X Mountain Lion or higher.
You and your recipient need to have a compatible Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch to use iMessage.

Everything is automatic. Both the sender and the recipient just need a device that supports iMessage. On your apple device, simply launch the Messages app and type and
then send your message. Then Messages will check with Apple servers if your recipient is set up for iMessage. If yes, your message will automatically be
delivered as an iMessage. Otherwise, your message will be sent as a regular text message (SMS/MMS). Please note, iMessages appears in blue bubbles while regular text messages appears in green bubbles.

To turn on or off iMessage on your device, please follow these steps:

  • On your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, Start the Settings app and go to Messages and iMessage.
  • On your Mac, to
    turn off iMessage,
    start the Messages app and then click Messages > Preferences, then click Accounts and select your iMessage account.

iMessage features

iMessage has numerous awesome features. You can send and receive text, photos, audios, video , voice messages, location, money, heartbeats etc. The following are some iMessage

  • You can participate in group iMessage chats.
  • iMessage shows
    read receipts.
  • You can
    send pictures, audio or videos via iMessage.
  • You can send or receive cash with Apple Pay.
  • You can
    send your location via iMessage.
  • You can apply
    message effects.
  • You can use iMessage apps.
  • You can send a sketch, tap, or heartbeat using Digital Touch.
  • You can send GIFs using
  • You can use Messages in Cloud to sync your entire message history across all your apple devices.

How to troubleshoot iMessage problems

If iMessage is not working on your iPhone, iPad or Mac, please try the following fixes:

  • Make sure that your Apple device is running the latest version of iOS, iPadOS, macOS or watchOS.
    • To update your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, go to Settings > General > Software Update.
    • To update macOS Mojave or higher, head over to System Preferences and then Software Update.
    • To update macOS High Sierra or older, launch the App Store on your Mac and then click the Updates tab.
  • Turn off iMessage (check the section above to turn on/off iMessage), then restart your device and then turn iMessage back on.
  • Sign out and sign in:
    • On your Mac: Launch Messages, select Messages > Preferences, then click Accounts and select your iMessage account. Click Sign Out. Then restart your Mac
      and sign back in.
    • On your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch: Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive. Tap your Apple ID, then tap Sign Out. Then restart your device and sign back in.
    • Ensure that your device is connected to the Internet (a cellular data or Wi-Fi network).
    • Make sure that your time zone is correct:
      • macOS: Click Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Date & Time. Also, you may need to tick the ”Set date and time automatically” box.
      • iOS or iPadOS: Head over to Settings > General > Date & Time. You may also want to enable the “Set Automatically” option.
    • Check the
      Apple System Status website.
      Maybe Apple is having iMessage outages.
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GeeksModo Staff is a team of iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch experts led by Moses Johnson. We're passionate about all things Apple!
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