How To Tell If You’re Sending an iMessage or a Text on iOS 5

iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S have only been out for a short time, but I’m already getting asked a lot of questions about the new iMessage app.

Common questions include, “Why there are green bubbles and blue bubbles?” and “Why can’t I send iMessages to a friend’s iPhone?”

These are all good questions, and I hope to help you figure out what’s going on in the iPhone messages app, so that you can save on text message costs.

The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no individual iMessage app, the standard Message app you know and love will automatically send messages as a text or as an iMessage depending on the device your contact has.

Blue Bubble, Green Bubble – Text or iMessage

When you send a message in the Message app on your iPhone 4S or older iPhone with iOS 5, the app will check to see if your contact has an iPhone.

iMessage iOS 5 iPhone 4S

Blue Bubbles indicate an iMessage

If you are sending a message to an iPhone user, or to the Apple ID of an iPad user, you will see the name turn blue, and your messages will be blue. There is also an “iMessage” indicator in the text entry field. You can see this in the image above.

Text message on iOS 5 iPhone 4S

Green Bubbles indicate a Text

If you are sending a message to someone with any other phone, or to a Google Voice number, the name will show up as green. The text bubbles will also be green, the indicator will also show “Text Message”, where you type.

Why Do You want iMessage?

Group iMessage with Picture on iOS 5

Group iMessage with a Picture on iOS 5

In addition to saving you the cost of sending a text message, you can send group messages easily over iMessage. Even better, you can drop in photos and videos to share with your friends. This is great for instantaneous sharing and coordinating. An iMessage brings the urgency of a text message, so you’ll still get  faster responses from most friends.

Why Can’t I send an iMessage to a Friend’s iPhone?

If your friend has an iPhone, but you can’t send them an iMessage, they don’t have iOS 5. If they have an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4, they can upgrade to iOS 5 for free in about half an hour. In addition to iMessage, there are a number of benefits to upgrading to iOS 5 which you can share with them. One of my favorites is the new notification center.

Here’s how to upgrade to iOS 5 and 5 Things to Do Before You Upgrade to iOS 5.

You can watch the iOS 5 overview video below for many more of the iOS 5 features.