With only hours to go until the launch of the iPad 2 and what's expected to be a demo of iOS 5.0, an Apple trademark submission has been spotted for what looks like a social messaging or online chat service. Filed on February 23, the "stylized speech bubbles" are in fact referenced in four separate submissions - 85249977, 85249986, 85250000 and 85250006 - with various classifications including "online social networking services."
However, there's also mention of "Entertainment and educational services, namely, providing text, video, audio, and multimedia materials" and dozens of other potential applications, keeping us guessing as to the specific application of the symbol. It's not the first we've heard of Apple planning some sort of social networking system; the company has previously been linked to a MobileMe-based network, a Ping-style social shopping app and more.
It's possible we could see the bubbles make their debut at Apple's event later today, or alternatively this could all be coincidental. Still, with the iPad 2 expected to have twin cameras and FaceTime functionality, it's possible that Apple is planning to deliver long-anticipated iChat-style IM support to iOS.
Update: It's been pointed out that this is the logo for Apple's perhaps little-loved Ping service.
[via Patently Apple]