iPhone Gets iChat Connection in Leopard

Illustration for article titled iPhone Gets iChat Connection in Leopard

You know that AIM mobile device forwarding that forwards your AIM messages to your phone via SMS? The one that just about all IM clients already have now? Apple's building a link to that feature in Leopard's iChat, under the accounts screen in preferences.

What does this do? Well, with this, you can forward your messages to your iPhone, which with the iChat-like SMS screen, gives you a kind of iChat-esque option for chat.

It's pretty ghetto, and it's pretty much the least Apple could do to get iChat onto the iPhone. How about we see a real iChat app, or better yet, a multi-client chat client like Adium?

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DISCUSSION

The popular conjecture is that there is no iChat because AT&T makes money off of the text messaging. They do charge and extra $10/month for 1500 text messages, and $20 for unlimited, so this charge isn't completely unfounded.

However, at the same time, Steve Jobs, and the head of AT&T wireless claimed that they want VOIP on the iPhone. People theorized that it made sense because then AT&T can still charge for a base plan while not having to actually put traffic through their network. However, it could very well cause people to choose a lower rate plan (unless they have the VOIP client use your minutes .. how evil would that be?). Likewise, text messages need to go over AT&T's network, so which logic prevails?

An alternate theory is that Apple just has its hands full with other things, and figured that having an iChat-like SMS system would suffice as a stop-gap. Of course, if Apple does release an SDK, then I expect within days for someone to release an IM client. If they release an scripting language, we might also expect this.

Without question, though, Apple is far from finished with the iPhone. The current apps are still somewhat buggy, and don't provide full functionality. It's good enough for daily use, but if I didn't expect updates and fixes, I would be a bit angry.

Even if they don't open the SDK, if they have 3rd party developers, there's some chance a company will release a chat client .. though it might depend if all software developed for the iPhone requires Apple's blessing.

I guess we'll also have to see how much time it takes to hack the iPhone, and how Apple handles it. Usually Apple is fairly lax about the hackability of their system .. they put enough roadblocks in the way, but if you're determined, it's usually doable. Of course, there is always the chance they fight back, and and exploits get fixed in upgrades.