iMore has learned that Apple intends to update their entire lineup of iOS device products to support the new, miniaturized Dock connector, and to do it as early the rumored September 12 special event this fall. This would include the new iPhone 5, the the new iPod nano and iPod touch, the rumored 7-inch iPad mini, and an updated version of the current 9.7-inch iPad.
We've gone over the reasons why Apple would release an iPad mini and how they could implement it before, but refreshing the iPad 3 so soon after it's March, 2012 launch, especially considering past updates have occurred only yearly schedules, is something equally interesting to consider.
Apparently, Apple believes consistent Dock connectors across the line, and other improvements they're able to make to the new iPad this point, are more important than sticking to yearly release schedules. Apple has previously shown little aversion to extending release schedules, with a 16 month gap between iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, and no substantive iPod touch updates for 23 months and counting. But what about significantly shortening them?
Rumors of early iPad updates also aren't without precedent. Last year Daring Fireball, TechCrunch, and iMore and others heard the iPad 3 was being considered for a fall 2011 launch before ultimately getting scheduled into the "regular" spring 2012 slot.
Furthermore, iLounge reported last week that they'd heard from their own sources that an updated 9.7-inch iPad was in the works, but framed it in the context of a 4th-generation device that would include the new Dock connector, a rear-mounted mic, and address heat issues. They felt it was unlikely, however, due to Apple's typical iPad release schedules.
Whether a new, new iPad this fall would be an iPad 4,1 or simply a new iPad 3,x is unclear. Certainly Apple could decide again to hold off on any and all updates until next spring, or could do a more modest iPad 3 update this fall and a proper iPad 4 next spring.
In the meantime, it sure sounds like Apple is planning to run the line when it comes to iOS device updates this September.