Apple is hoping to regain some ground against voice services like Skype and Google Talk by adding a video answering machine feature to iChat.

The news, which comes from suggests that the Cupertino based company is working on a feature that would allow you to send a video message if the person you were trying to contact wasn't in.

According to the Apple news site "In a 13-page patent filing published this week, Apple provided a detailed explanation of the technology with some new additions. In addition the aforementioned status preferences, the video message could be provided in response to a video chat request after a period of time had elapsed since receiving the video chat request, the company said".

The patent outlines what could be possible:

"The responsive video message, in some implementations, can be stored in a video mailbox within the video chat server attached to the network connection. In this example, when the call recipient next connects to the network connection and activates the video chat component, some or all of the contents of the video mailbox can be downloaded or otherwise be made available to the computer for viewing by the call recipient".

It is thought that Apple would allow the video answering machine messages to be accessed remotely from your iPhone or iPod.