This patent for automatically sending an audio or video reply to an iChat call has us excited, because it could point to automated replies not just on computers, but via the iPhone as well.

The original iChat AV answering machine patent was filed in October 2007, and detailed ways of iChat (or the iChat server) playing back an automated video or audio message when the user can't be reached. What's cool about this is that it's not that useful for computer to computer calling, but very useful for iPhone to computer calling, or computer to iPhone calling. When an iPhone user is out of range, or if a computer isn't on, it's convenient to know within, say, 10 seconds, instead of waiting there and wasting your phone's battery.

Plus, if there is video recording in iPhone 3.0, you may be able to record your messages directly on the phone itself. Bad ass (if true). [Macnn]