Though Apple has rolled out a new iMessage messaging service for iOS-to-iOS device communications on the latest iOS 5 release, users of traditional instant messaging services may be hopeful to hear that the OS X desktop iChat service code string was found on iOS. It’s still too early to tell if Apple will port its desktop iChat messaging client to iOS at this time, but the service gives hint to integration with Jabber (for Google Talk users), AOL/AIM messaging, as well as FaceTime. The code also hints that iMessage may find a home with iChat rather than its current placement with the SMS/MMS messaging app.
The move to separate iMessage into iChat rather than place it with SMS/MMS Message app may make more sense and avoid consumer confusion on whether their messages was sent via SMS/MMS or if it was delivered as data for free. Carriers charge around $0.20 per SMS/MMS message to send and receive, so customers can be more assured that the iChat iMessage will be delivered over a network data connection instead of traditional text messaging protocol. This would bundle iMessage alongside other data-based, non-text type messages, including FaceTime, AOL/AIM, and Google Talk.
This would also give Apple’s FaceTime video calling hub a stand-alone client as well. Currently, there is no separate app for FaceTime, and users must initiate FaceTime video calling either through a phone call or through the Contacts application. As it stands, there’s no online/offline indicator for FaceTime, and user must initiate a call first to be able to tell if the person they’re trying to initiate a FaceTime call with is available online. As FaceTime requires a user to be on WiFi, rather than 3G/2G data connections, it’s really hard to tell in advance if the person you’re trying to video chat with is connected to a WiFi network before you try to reach them.
The move by Apple to integrate its own instant messaging client into iOS would be the latest attempt by the software-maker to create corollaries between its desktop and mobile platforms through the porting of apps and user experiences.