Update: We’ve run this by a few developers who’ve seen this before. Their take is that it is code copied from desktop OS X and may not be indicative of new features. Basically, Apple has a general messaging framework. This framework covers text chat and video conferencing. FaceTime, iChat, and iMessage apps are all based on this framework, furthermore some code references will spill over between apps. The image above is simply a list of the Apple software built on top of this chat framework.
We already know of code strings suggesting that the iMessage messaging service between iOS devices could be supported in iChat on Mac OS X, allowing people who own an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to exchange instant messages with Mac owners.
Now another developer named John Heaton found some hooks in the iOS code, pictured above, indicating an iChat-like service in iOS or at least suggesting additional instant messaging services. As you can see from the above screenshot, code strings mention a variety of instant messaging services such as iMessage, FaceTime, Jabber and AIM. Even though iChat is not directly referenced, the discovery is intriguing nonetheless.
iOS currently supports iMessage via the iMessage app and FaceTime video calling through the phone app. Even though dozens of third-party IM apps exist on the App Store for AIM and Jabber connectivity, Apple is yet to formally support those in iOS software. In addition Apple’s recent trademark filings indicate the company could be working to eventually integrate FaceTime, iMessage and iChat into a unified messaging solution on both the Mac and iOS devices.
Note that support for additional IM services could simply be added to the built-in Messages app in iOS 5 rather than add a new iOS program called iChat. If this is the case, Apple might want to re-brand iChat on Mac OS X as Messages and even release iChat and FaceTime on Windows to produce true cross-platform unified messaging solution.
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