We're not even two full days into the new year, and already, we've got our first batch of iRumors. The Next Web is reporting that app developers combing through Apple's usage logs — an online hub where the tech company and app developers essentially share what they're working on — have spotted cookie crumbs from what could be the next iPhone running a new version of iOS. Specifically, developers spotted an identifier marked "iPhone 6,1" connected to an IP address within Apple's Cupertino campus. The mysterious device is running what's thought to be iOS 7.
We know that internally, Apple identifies the iPhone 5 as "iPhone 5,1" or "iPhone 5,2" based on the model's connection specifications (LTE, 4G, and such). If Apple really is testing a new version of the iPhone, there's a pretty high likelihood that this naming convention holds.
Should we be surprised if Apple is already testing a new handset when the divisive iPhone 5 is barely three months old? Not really. As John Koetsier at VentureBeat points out, this is "pretty much expected, normal, and standard operating procedure" for tech companies everywhere — including rivals like Samsung. "In fact, the only shock would be if the company was not working on new models and software."
What is weird, though, is that Apple is essentially parading the thing out in the open for the whole world to see. Why not disguise a top-secret iPhone prototype in an older model's identifier? (iPhone 3,1, for example.) Tagging a new iPhone with a unique IP address from inside the Cupertino mothership is the developer's equivalent of setting off fireworks. Sean Hollister at The Verge suggests that a company as meticulous as Apple is either toying with us or is making a concerted effort to forego its pledge to "double down on secrecy."
In any case, iPhone Rumor Season 2013: Officially commenced.