Apple has filed a patent for a video answering machine for its iChat VOIP application, amid speculation that the feature will appear as part of the Mac OS X upgrade dubbed Snow Leopard.

The patent application, unearthed by Apple Insider, shows users being able to record outgoing video or audio messages for use when they're busy on other calls or away from their computer.

"The audio-video messaging services are provided using an answering machine-type application that is familiar to most users who have used conventional telephone answering machines," says Apple in its application.

Online message storage

Outgoing video messages could be uploaded to a video chat server online, allowing it to respond to iChat requests even when the user wasn't logged into their iChat account, and store incoming video calls.

The patent specifically mentions that calls could be collected through a website or a mobile app running on an iPhone.

It's uncertain whether the new answering machine will find its way into iChat in the next iteration of Mac's operating system, Snow Leopard, which is widely expected to be showcased at the Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco this June.

Via Electric Pig.