Almost from out of nowhere, we have the surprise news that Apple has filed for a patent suggesting that it will be bringing instant messaging to the iPhone.

First published in March by the US patent office, the filing displays the same bubble interface as the iPhone’s current text messaging screen, but adds features that include an additional text field to see new message bubbles and a list of suggested words to make chatting easier.

Other companies don’t do it right

"Portable device-based Instant Messaging services are becoming increasingly popular," wrote Apple in the filing. "But most IM services on portable electronic devices have a rudimentary user interface. It is cumbersome to create instant messages on such devices. A user often needs to press a telephone keypad repeatedly to choose a character.

"It is also difficult to find and view previous instant messages. For example, it is inconvenient or even impossible for the user to view a series of previous messages with a particular user while composing a new message for that user," it concluded.

Apple did not comment on the patent filing, but the iPhone’s lack of instant messaging has always been one of the most common complaints from users.  Look for more on this as Apple starts ramping up its plans for the long-rumoured 3G iPhone this summer.