All kinds of people have been sleuthing the massive 358 page patent that had recently been awarded to Apple to see if they could find clues for iPhone features of the future. Their hard work has paid off.

Alexander Wolfe from InformationWeek has found signs that Apple is working on video conferencing for the iPhone. A few feature lists buried deep within the patent mention video conferencing and digital videoing.

“In some embodiments, the functions may include telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, Web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.”

The most important part revealed in the patent is:

“In some embodiments, an optical sensor is located on the back of the device, opposite the touch screen display on the front of the device, so that the touch screen display may be used as a viewfinder for either still and/or video image acquisition. In some embodiments, an optical sensor is located on the front of the device so that the user’s image may be obtained for videoconferencing while the user views the other video conference participants on the touch screen display. In some embodiments, the position of the optical sensor can be changed by the user (e.g., by rotating the lens and the sensor in the device housing) so that a single optical sensor may be used along with the touch screen display for both video conferencing and still and/or video image acquisition.”

As it seems, Apple had planned for the iPhone to do video conferencing all along, it just hasn’t been implemented yet. I am sure Steve Jobs has his reasons.

We must remind you that just because it is contained in the patent doesn’t mean it will come to fruition, many of Apple’s patents never make it into production. It does give iPhone users a glimpse of hope for the future so start saving those pennies just in case.