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Friday, March 23, 2012, 08:15 pm PT (11:15 pm ET)

Apple job listings hint at future iOS telephony features

A number of job listings on Apple's website reveal that the iPhone maker is looking to implement various wireless telephony technologies in the next generation of iOS, and some descriptions call for a candidate with familiarity of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture which is the basis of LTE voice services.

The Apple Wireless Technology team listings, found by Light Reading, ask for software engineers who have experience with a handful of essential voice signal technologies, which could mean the company is readying a voice over LTE (VoLTE) or branded voice over IP (VoIP) solution, reports GigaOM.

Although no current iPhone iteration supports LTE, telecoms that carry the device have already started rolling out the faster next-generation network in the U.S. Verizon, for example, had LTE-capable phones when the iPhone 4S was launched.

There has been speculation as to what architecture Apple will use when it begins to offer voice services on expected upcoming 4G LTE handsets, but the new job ads give a glimpse as to what the company could be planning.

One listing asks for an engineer experienced in session initiation protocol (SIP), real-time transport protocol (RTP), and VoIP-related protocols along with a familiarity of standard wireless technologies like GSM/UMTS, CDMA and IMS. Of particular interest is the IMS requirement as this is the architecture that the major U.S. wireless carriers are implementing or plan to implement in their respective 4G LTE networks.

It is unknown whether Apple will fully rely on IMS for communications in future products as it would place more power in the hands of the telecoms, though it seems that the company is at least experimenting with the idea. A possible solution that is compatible with IMS without fully supporting the architecture might be a more palpable option, especially for a company like Apple that puts emphasis on a consistent user experience over multiple devices.

"Whatever Apple does, it will want [voice] to work on its cellular and non-cellular devices," said Dean Bubley, founder of consulting firm Disruptive Analysis Ltd. "Any voice platform will need a non-SIM mode [like] an over-the-top extension of IMS. Apple won't want a completely different voice experience on the iPhone and a Wi-Fi only iPad."