Following some nifty detective work, a developer has discovered that Apple is already building iMessage capabilities into iChat in preparation for the launch of iO 5 this Fall (via MacRumors). The developer has found code which is buried deep in the iChat build found in OS X 10.7 Lion which refers to novel ‘timeDelivered’ and ‘timeread’ protocols found in iMessage but not supported in iChat. While this is far from proof, it could suggest that Apple is tacking on iMessage capabilities into iChat.
iMessage is described as “the new messaging service for all iOS users. You can send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to anyone with one of those devices. iMessage is built into the messages app so that you can send text, photos videos, locations and contacts”. You can also track your messages with read and delivery receipts, hence the references in the new iChat code.
Obviously, enabling iMessage capabilities in Mac would be a massive advantage for all Apple users, acting as the new short messaging and conversation client with the ability to take on e-mail for convenience’ sake. In combination with FaceTime, it would offer a full scope of communication functionality between Macs and iOS devices.
Obviously, there is no release date announced for iOS 5 yet, but if this rumor is true, it is likely that an iChat update could be in the works too. The question is, in addition to integrating the iMessage functionality, will Apple completely revamp the iChat interface.