iOS 5 may have come out just a few months ago, but it appears Apple is already testing iPads with the next major version of the software--iOS 6--against popular Web sites.
Ars Technica this morning published some analysis of its latest traffic logs, pointing to the fact that it has received visits from iPads running iOS 6, and that those devices are located around Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
Ars notes that these tablets are running a newer version of WebKit (version 535.8), as opposed to the tablets running existing versions of iOS 5, including both iOS 5.0.1 (the current release), and iOS 5.1, which has been in developers' hands for months now and is expected to be released to users at next Wednesday's Apple event.
One other tidbit from the report is some 346 visits from users with 2,048x1,536-pixel displays, the same resolution as is expected to come on Apple's next iPad. Ars, however, does not pinpoint those users to Apple's headquarters.
It's not unusual for future versions of Apple's software to get spotted in traffic logs well ahead of their being officially announced. In the case of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, that software was seen in traffic logs last October, four months before it would make its official debut. The same thing happened with its predecessor, 10.7 Lion, which began showing up in 2009, a year ahead of being made public.
Apple took the wraps off iOS 5 at last year's Worldwide Developers Conference, which it holds annually in San Francisco. For previous iterations of the software, the company held special events at its headquarters. The software typically comes out a few days ahead of new iPhones, which ship with it preinstalled.
Update at 12:00 p.m. PT: We went through a handful of our own server logs and did not find any traces of user agent strings that matched up with Ars' findings.