We’ve heard about and been excited by the possibility of iMessage coming to the OS X desktop, but there are hints that the Mac’s iChat application could jump the other way and become part of Apple’s Messages app on iOS devices. That would make Messages a much more well-rounded communications hub.
If you’re not familiar with iChat, it’s Apple’s multiprotocol IM client that comes preinstalled on every new OS X computer. Users can enter AIM, me.com, Yahoo, Google Talk and Jabber account credentials to use those services, and they can sign in to more than one account at a time. Like Mail for OS X, it’s a flexible tool that can centralize much of a user’s IM-based communication needs.
Code discovered by developer John Heaton (via TUAW) in the most recent iOS update includes mentions to those services that iChat works with out of the box. Of course, Apple doesn’t yet let you sign in to IM services from AIM or Jabber natively on iOS devices, though there are a wealth of third-party options that do in the App Store.
Still, if Messages continues to grow into something that allows access to multiple IM services in one central location, in addition to text messaging and iMessage services, that will expand its usefulness quite a bit. Of course, I’m still hoping iMessage makes it to the desktop first, but this would be a nice small feature update for iOS sometime down the road.