Does Apple really have patterns?
Apple likes to do things a certain way. When they establish a pattern, the industry tends to assume they'll hold that pattern until judgement day. Last year, the iPad launched in April of 2010. Despite the fact that there was only one year of precedent- not really enough to establish a 'pattern' by any stretch of the definition, it was decided that the iPad 2 would launch around the same time. Likewise, the release of iOS 4 ahead of the iPhone 4 built up expectations that iOS 5 would hit with the iPhone 5.
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It didn't. Apple held on to 5 and gave us 4.3 instead. Now the grapevine tells us that iOS 5 won't be coming to a handset near you until Fall. Pundits have made a lot out of the fact that Apple is "breaking their pattern".
But really, Apple "patterns" have never been set in stone. The Cupertino-based company doesn't make promises like that. They release new products when those products are ready. The iPad 2 launched a month earlier than its predecessor. The new editions of iOS have always launched at some point in early Spring. These are only patterns in the vaguest sense of the word- using Apple's release history to predict the future only works in the most general sense.
That said, we'll move on to the juicy iOS 5 rumors. First off, the new update may see a preview at WWDC. Those rumors of a September iPad launch are back again. And it is believed that iOS 5 could launch alongside yet another new iPad. If Apple wants to "reset" their pattern of Spring iPad launches, a September roll-out would do the trick without forcing them to go eighteen months without a new tablet reveal.
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iOS 5 is believed to be very cloud-focused. One new rumored service is the "music locker", which has a Fall launch date as well. A location-based service for locating friends and family members is also rumored. We should hear a lot more about Apple's cloud plans at WWDC in June. The summer release of OS X Lion is also expected to contain snippets of the next wave of Apple cloud products.