This is an interesting tidbit about the new iPad. The folks over at Ars Technica have noticed that an ‘iPad’ device running software identified as ‘iOS 6′ is showing up in their server logs. This device, while unidentified beyond the fact that it is an ‘iPad’, seems likely to be an iPad 3.

The first clue was a ‘few hundred hits’ from a device that was being reported in their monthly browser logging as having a screen resolution of 2048×1536, the rumored resolution of the new iPad’s Retina display. But there are some medical displays that report that resolution, so they dug a bit further and found more clues.

ipad logs 4f50f4e intro 520x124 Apple employees may already be using iPad 3s running iOS 6 to surf the web internally

Jacqui Cheng lays out the evidence discovered by polling the server logs further:

…we began looking at iPad user agents coming from Apple’s corporate IP block in Cupertino and discovered that Apple appears to 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.

It is doubtful that Apple would spring iOS 6 on an unsuspecting public before it has even released iOs 5.1, which has been stagnating in beta for weeks now. Likely, this is a future version of Apple’s iDevice software that it is just testing internally. Sure, that’s nothing too exciting as they likely test new versions of devices and software all the time, but I’ve been curious for a while about just why updates to the beta version of iOS 5.1 have been so quiet.

iOS 5.1 has been locked down with regards to API changes for weeks now, leading to some speculation that Apple is busy adding support for a new feature to the iPad’s OS. Perhaps Siri, or just support for a Retina display, but also maybe some other new mystery hardware feature.

It’s always worth taking browser logs with a grain of salt, as they can be fooled with varying levels of difficulty, but this testing seems likely. At this point, March 7th can’t come fast enough.