One of the most requested new features for Apple's iPhone has been instant messaging. After all, e-mail is sort of old-fashioned to your average cutting edge phone phreak. Apple seems to be poised to offer IM, as it has filed a patent for a universal interface for real-time messaging.
In normal use, users would continue to use the same bubble chat interface as with today's phone, complete with the ability to start new messages by searching through the contact list or typing the first few letters of someone's name. Users can also see a past chat history and remove individual conversations from the list.
However, the patent also adds features not present in the current iPhone software. While one chat view closely resembles that of the current SMS interface with a dedicated text field for entering new messages, another would have typed text appear directly in a new message bubble and would replace the text entry box with a list of suggested words.
The iPhone currently floats just its most recommended word above the text cursor during typing.
We're just hearing about this now, but the patent was filed last August. Think Different, and ahead, apparently.