Although it is highly likely that it will take another five months or so until Apple decides to introduce the world to their sixth-generation iPhone, the company thankfully never leaves technology fans waiting too long before it gives us something to get excited about. Apple has only recently pushed out iOS 5.1.1 to the public, but with their annual Worldwide Developer Conference looming, recent findings are adding to the speculation that we will see iOS 6 introduced at the event in San Francisco.

As is usually the case when it comes to imminent announcements of new software, keen-eyed developers and internal tinkerers have found references to iOS 6 littered throughout code strings and embedded within various programs. We were treated to some revelations last week about Apple’s intent to move away from using Google Maps in the next major release of iOS, opting to integrate their own mapping solution known only as ‘Maps’. That move alone represents an update to their mobile operating system, meaning iOS 6 will definitely bring a much-needed visual and usability change.

Apart from the iOS 6 references that have been found recently in the code that powers the iCloud.com site, an iOS app developer has today reached out to the guys over at 9to5Mac after he noticed that his app was being used by devices which were running iOS 6. The majority of app developers who produced software for the iOS and OS X platforms use some form of analytics software to collect daily and weekly download and usage statistics. When pulling in his reports, the developer noticed that the reported software version that was being collected in some instances was ‘6.0’.

ios-6

If iOS 6 is set to be unveiled next month at WWDC, it stands to reason that a number of Apple testers have already been running test builds of the software around the Cupertino campus. No-one can be sure when the iOS 6 references started showing up, but it looks like Apple is opting to test its new creation out with apps downloaded from the App Store. This isn’t exactly a new revelation, as the same thing happened last year.

The inclusion of Apple’s new mapping system, along with the keenly awaited 3D map abilities will more than likely be billed as the most notable new features of iOS 6. With that said, it is unlikely that this is all which version 6.0 will bring to Apple’s devices. We have already seen reports that an upgrade to the iCloud service will offer additional sharing and photo features, which some are saying will work in a similar fashion to the Instagram app.

Whatever happens and whatever Apple announces next month, those who were lucky enough to get their WWDC tickets are likely to be in for a software-based treat.

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