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For some time it has been possible to configure iChat accounts so that iChat messages sent when one is offline are forwarded to a mobile number. This conveniently allows iChat-to-moble conversations.

Has the deployment if iMessage changed any of this functionality?

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(I ask because the configuration is a bit complex, not everyone does it, and it has been less than reliable in the past; and now it should, in principle, be possible to make this functionality automatic, since iMessage is built on the same addresses used in iChat. Moreover, if it is indeed automatic, having forwarding configured the old way could circumvent iMessage.) – raxacoricofallapatorius Oct 20 '11 at 21:29
How are you forwarding offline iChats to a mobile number? Do you mean configuring Gchat do this within Gmail? – chrismanderson Oct 20 '11 at 21:34
@Chris: iChat > Preferences... > Accounts > Configure AIM Mobile Forwarding... takes you to AOL's website where after wrestling with some UI one is set up. Interestingly, iChat somehow finds out about this for one's buddies, shows an icon indicating that their accounts have been so configured, and posts a message in the chat window when they are offline saying that messages will be forwarded to their mobile. – raxacoricofallapatorius Oct 20 '11 at 21:49
That's pretty nifty. I would assume nothing has changed, because iOS 5 devices receive SMS messages as normal. It's only when receiving a "text" from a iMessage registered device does the switch occur. – chrismanderson Oct 20 '11 at 21:51
@Chris: I would assume so also. But it's not an easy hypothesis to test (without doing some disconfiguration and some bother to a buddy or two). Also, it's (wishfully) conceivable that iMessage could replace this functionality: iChat could automatically forward an iMessage for offline users. – raxacoricofallapatorius Oct 20 '11 at 21:55
up vote 1 down vote accepted

No, iMessages has not changed any of these features. Forwarding to a cell phone is a feature that is handled via AIM rather than iChat.

Furthermore, the new Messages application has not changed any of this functionality either. It works exactly as it did before. It shows a little "wi-fi" symbol next to buddies that are offline, but have AIM Forwarding enabled. However, this symbol is only visible in the Buddies window, and not in the Messages window (the window where you chat). They appear like any other offline user in the Messages window. Therefore, it might help if you remember who does and who doesn't have this feature enabled.

When you send them a message, it goes to their cell phone, and when they reply, you see it in Messages. Note that if they are on invisible mode on AIM, it goes to their AIM rather than their cell phone. This provides further evidence that AIM is in charge of forwarding to the phone rather than iChat/Messages.

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