Feb. 16, 2012 at 11:31 AM ET
Mountain Lion — the latest version of OS X, Apple's popular operating system — was made available to developers on Thursday while average users were told they'll have to wait until summer to upgrade their devices. But Apple is throwing us regular folks a little bone: It's letting us try out Messages, the new messaging app included with Mountain Lion, right now.
Messages is intended to be a replacement for iChat, the messaging app currently included in the OS X operating system. Just like iChat, Messages will support AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and Jabber. What's new is the ability to use iMessage, Apple's own messenger service.
iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users have been able to use iMessage since the release of iOS 5, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system. The service allows them to send unlimited messages to any supported devices while keeping things synced. The addition of Mac support for iMessage means that users who own iOS devices in addition to Mac laptops or desktops will now be able to easily start conversations on on a mobile device and continue them on a computer, without ever missing a message.
If you want to try out the Messages app now, you can download it directly from Apple's website. Just keep in mind that it is part of a public beta — which basically means that you're testing software for Apple — and requires OS X Lion 10.7.3 to run.
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