Believe this: Apple just patented BlackBerry’s BBM app for iPhone 6!

Yesterday, on March 26, 2013, Apple was granted a patent for its invention relating to portable electronic devices, and more particularly, to portable devices for performing instant messaging.

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, the instant messaging patent is for “a portable electronic device with a touch screen display [which] displays a list of instant messaging conversations including a group conversation.”

If it sounds incredibly close to BlackBerry’s BBM service, that’s because it is, or so we think.

We’re sure almost everyone reading this article knows what BBM offers – a way to send and receive messages within a group in real time. For the record, BBM is an Internet-based instant messenger application that allows messaging between BlackBerry users. Messages sent via BBM are sent over the Internet and use the BlackBerry PIN system, so communication is only possible between BlackBerry devices.

And with the latest upgrade, BlackBerry now offers BBM Voice, or the ability to make free voice calls to your BlackBerry contacts over the WiFi network.

Apple’s new patent for instant messaging offers the same utility for text – not voice, at least not yet – over a radio frequency.

“The group conversation includes a first multi-recipient identifier and a group conversation indicia. In response to detecting a user selection of the group conversation, the device displays a set of outgoing messages from a user of the device to multiple recipients in a chronological order and a second multi-recipient identifier,” the Apple patent with USPTO states.

“The device receives a new outgoing message for the group conversation entered by the user of the device through the touchscreen display, and responds to detecting a user request to send the new outgoing message to the multiple recipients by sending the new outgoing message to the multiple recipients in the group conversation. The new outgoing message is appended to the set of outgoing messages displayed on the touchscreen display,” it adds.

The patent is specifically for “a portable communications device such as a mobile telephone that also contains other functions, such as PDA and/or music player functions,” a.k.a an iPhone. The patent elaborates the RF (radio frequency) circuitry which receives and sends RF signals, also called electromagnetic signals.

It thus describes the process of sending and receiving instant messaging via radio frequency: “The RF circuitry converts electrical signals to/from electromagnetic signals and communicates with communications networks and other communications devices via the electromagnetic signals.”

Some of the other recent patents that Apple Inc. has secured include those for the anti-crash mechanism, ak.a. parachute, and the ultimate touchscreen on which we’ll be able to scribble notes with an ordinary pen or even pencil.

Yesterday, Emirates 24|7 reported about Apple’s latest acquisition, of indoor GPS firm WiFiSLAM, which has the technology to allow smartphones to pinpoint their location in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.

This is the latest in a long list of iPhone 6 leaks, including the acquisitions and patents that Apple has recently bagged and, hopefully, at least some of these will be implemented in the upcoming iPhone 6.

But it certainly isn’t the last of such rumours to surface – we’ll surely be bringing you more iPhone 6 rumours as they materialise.

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