A series of job openings in the Apple website show that the iPhone maker seeks to implement various mobile technologies in the next generation of iOS, and some descriptions require a candidate with familiarity of the 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 key voice signal technologies, which could mean the company is developing a voice over LTE (VoLTE) or brand voice over IP (VoIP) solution, industry insiders say.
Although no the current iteration of the iPhone supports LTE, telecommunications that carry the device has already begun the deployment of 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 to use when Apple starts offering mobile voice services on expected future 4G LTE phones, but the announcements of new jobs give an idea of what the company might 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 the familiarity of wireless standards including GSM/UMTS, CDMA and IMS. Of particular interest is the requirement of IMS, as this is the architecture that the major wireless carriers in the United States are implementing or planning to implement in their 4G LTE networks.
In fact, Apple is probably doing these contracts, just because it plans to work closely with its carrier partners. The skill sets that Apple is looking for fit in well with VoIP scheme operators’ plan to use for their next-generation voice services. Apple is looking for experienced engineers with a set of protocols that may seem incomprehensible to most people, but are well-known to telecom engineers.
It is not known whether Apple will fully rely on IMS for communications in future products, as it would put more power into the hands of the telcos, but it seems that the company is at least experimenting with the idea. One possible solution that is compatible with IMS, without fully supporting the architecture could be a more palpable option, especially for a company like Apple that emphasizes a consistent user experience across multiple devices.
Future iPhones will require SIP-based clients to communicate with those carriers’ IMS systems, so it is logical that Apple is hiring experts for its development.
"Whatever Apple does, it will want voice to work on their mobile devices and phones," said Dean Bubley, founder of the consulting firm Disruptive Analysis Ltd. "Any voice platform will need a non- -SIM mode like an over-the-top extension of IMS. Apple would not want a completely different voice experience on iPhone and Wi-Fi only iPad. "