Apple job postings hint at a possible VoLTE surprise for iPhone 6

VoLTE could make video chat features like Apple's Facetime standard on all 4G phones (source: Apple)

Apple has already said the iPhone 6 will support calls over Wi-Fi, but what about voice over LTE? No, the company hasn’t mentioned that, but there’s an outside chance the feature will be added to the next iPhone: Apple has posted job openings for engineers with VoLTE experience.

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Light Reading’s Dan Jones spotted several related¬†job postings and speculated on an iPhone 6 surprise. The company is looking for experience with VoLTE, IP Multimedia Subsystems and the Session Initiation Protocol — all of which add up to future voice support over fast data networks. Apple is also seeking people to help with¬†Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMD-WB), a codec used in the VoLTE standard.

If you’re looking for VoLTE support at the launch of the iPhone 6, the timing of this development isn’t ideal: Apple is expected to hold, but hasn’t yet announced, a press event on September 9 to unveil the iPhone 6. If the company is just now seeking VoLTE engineers, it would be nearly impossible to debut native voice over mobile broadband support on a new phone.

However, as Fierce Wireless notes, Verizon has said it will debut VoLTE service in the fourth quarter of this year. Other carriers also have timelines to switch voice services over to data networks: AT&T has done so in a few select markets with a single phone model, for example, and T-Mobile also offers the service.

It’s possible, then, that Apple could add the feature through a software update for some of its carrier partners. There shouldn’t be any special hardware required for VoLTE, especially if the iPhone can hand calls off from cellular to Wi-Fi; the concept is similar. Next month is surely too soon, but if Apple finds and hires the right expertise, the iPhone 6 could be one software update away from sending voice over LTE data networks. And once that happens, watch for new apps that bring different over-the-top services from the ones available now built on traditional cellular networks and Wi-Fi.

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