Have Apple employees already loaded up iOS 6 on the unreleased iPad 3? Apple certainly tests protypes and beta software well before unveiling it to the public and it looks like Apple is currently testing iOS 6 on the new iPad 3.
During a monthly stat check, Ars Technica discovered that their site had been browsed a couple of times by a device using a 2048×1536 screen resolution, which is the exact resolution for the rumored retina display iPad 3. Their stats also showed devices claiming to be running iOS 6. After hearing about their discoveries, we got curious about our own statistics and unearthed some similar findings.
I checked CultofMac.com’s stats and discovered that we too have had 12 visits from devices using that 2048×1536 resolution. There aren’t many displays on the market that use this screen resolution, but they do exist. Because the resolution by itself doesn’t tell us if it was an actual iPad 3 I kept digging.
The next thing I checked for was to see if any devices told our servers that they’re running iOS 6. While I didn’t find any devices that are running iOS 6, I did find a couple visitors running iPad iOSX, and iPad iOSU.
To be perfectly honest I have no idea what that means. It could be a new version of the iPad’s iOS software, or it could just be an odd glitch with our analytics. There were only a couple of visitors that were using that screen resolution with a weird iOS title. As Jacquie Cheng of Ars Technica points out though, the iPad 3’s running iOS were not running the older WebKit 534.46, and neither were these.
We began looking at iPad user agents coming from Apple’s corporate IP block in Cupertino and discovered that Apple appears to be surfing the Web using iPads running what looks like iOS 6.0. The whole listing shows iPads running iOS 5, iOS 5.0.1 (the current public release), iOS 5.1 (the upcoming release currently available to developers), and iOS 6. The iPads that appear to be running iOS 6 are also using a slightly newer build of WebKit—the older OSes all show WebKit 534.46, while the ones claiming to be iOS 6 show WebKit build 535.8.
So what does this mean? Is the iPad 3 going to come preloaded with iOS 6? Don’t count on it. Apple’s latest beta os iOS 5.1 hasn’t been released yet, but we’ll probably see it come out whenever the iPad 3 hits store shelves. It seems fairly clear though that Apple is making a lot of progress on iOS 6 and we might even see a preview of it on Wednesday with a full release later this summer.