updated 01:30 pm EST, Fri March 2, 2012
iOS 6 unlikely to debut until summer or fall
iPads with 2048x1536 displays and/or unreleased versions of iOS are appearing in server logs, Ars Technica remarks. In February the website saw 346 visits from a device with a 2048x1536 screen, which is believed to be the iPad 3 based on numerous reports and the rarity of such a resolution. Tracking iPads in use from Apple's corporate IP block in Cupertino, meanwhile, Ars says it has encountered devices running not only iOS 5.0, 5.0.1, or the developer-only 5.1, but even an unannounced iOS 6.
The iOS 6 devices reportedly use a newer build of the WebKit rendering engine, listed as v535.8 versus the v534.46 in earlier operating systems. Other details of the firmware are unknown, but it's believed that iOS 6 won't accompany the launch of the iPad 3. iOS 5.1 has yet to reach the public, and Apple has always reserved major iOS updates for the launch of new iPhones, not iPads. That could peg iOS 6 for the summer or the fall.
The next-generation iPad is due to be announced on March 7th. Apple's invitation effectively confirms a higher-res display, since a photo in the email shows very little pixelation even with a camera zoomed in close on the tablet. The upgrade will bring the iPad closer to parity with the sharpness of the iPhone 4S and the iPod touch.