Apple To Bring iChat To iPhone and iPad ?

Though the code discovered by developer John Heaton, and highlighted by TUAW, doesn’t specifically mention iChat, it does include strings related to outside services AOL Instant Messenger and Jabber. The iMessage application found in iOS 5 allows text messaging, but does not currently connect to third-party chat services like AIM.

But the iChat software built into Mac OS X does connect to services like AIM, Jabber and others, like Yahoo Messenger. The code references discovered by Heaton suggest that Apple was at one point testing similar functionality in iMessage for iOS 5.

Also interesting is the fact that the “IMService” code in iOS 5 mentions both the iMessage and FaceTime services. Currently, iMessage and FaceTime are separate applications in iOS 5, with the iPhone handing off FaceTime duties to the handset’s native “Phone” application, and the iPad and iPod touch featuring a separate application specifically for FaceTime. The code might suggest that FaceTime could eventually become integrated in iMessage.

Even on the Mac, FaceTime and iChat are different applications without integration. And there is currently no support for iMessage in Mac OS X, though there has been evidence that Apple could bring iMessage support to iChat in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.