The Messages beta is now available for download direct from Apple for free. Apple's official site advertises that it will give users "a taste of what's coming in OS X Mountain Lion," set to be released in late summer 2012.
"When you install Messages, it replaces iChat," Apple said. "But iChat services will continue to work. And Messages brings iMessage to the Mac — just like on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 5."
The Messages beta requires users be running the latest version of Lion, OS X 10.7.3. The full list of features of the Messages application, according to Apple, are:
- Send unlimited iMessages to any Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
- Start an iMessage conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
- Send photos, videos, attachments, contacts, locations, and more.
- Launch a FaceTime video call and bring the conversation face-to-face.
- Messages supports iMessage, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and Jabber accounts.