New evidence suggesting that Apple is planning to integrate its upcoming iMessage service with iChat, Apple’s trusty and underutilized desktop-based chat application.
A developer sent Macrumors the following snippet of discovered code from OS X Lion’s version of iChat.
@interface IMMessage : NSObject
MacRumors explains the significance of verbiage:
The “timeDelivered” and “timeRead’ fields indicate the tracking of delivery and read receipts for instant messages. These features, however, are not supported in any of iChat’s native messaging protocols, while the same features are offered in Apple’s iMessage protocol. These properties were also not present in previous versions of iChat prior to OS X Lion. We believe the only reason Apple would have added these properties was to build in cross compatibility with their new iMessage protocol.
Assuming this integration is implemented, iMessage users will presumably able to talk with iChat users and vice versa. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough, though. iMessage is part of iOS 5 and while it hasn’t been released yet, a report from earlier this week claimed that Apple was sending golden masters of its upcoming mobile OS to overseas assemblers in late September.
Eventually, though, Apple will have to come up with some sort of all-in-one solution to account for iMessage, iChat, and FaceTime users. Of course, Apple might just ensure that these programs all play nice with each other (though technological hurdles would exist) but Apple typically likes to make things easier for consumers, not more confusing.