Apple (s aapl) might have quad-core iPhone and iPad devices coming in 2012, according to some code discovered deep in Apple’s iOS 5.1 pre-release software on Friday. We’ve been hearing a lot about the possibility of a quad-core A6, successor to the A5 processor that currently powers iPhone 4S and iPad 2 devices, but now there’s reason to believe those new processors are being actively tested.
The iOS 5.1 beta contains references to quad-core chips in a hidden system panel that describes core configurations supported by iOS software, according to 9t05Mac. In the latest beta, it’s been updated to include a reference to “/cores/core.3”, which follows “/cores/core.0″ and /cores/core.1”, references to single and dual-core devices, respectively. A “core.2” designation is skipped, which would represent a triple-core processor according to the naming system.
Apple is thought to be testing the iPad 3 and possibly a next-gen iPhone on the iOS 5.1 beta, which could mean those devices are packing a quad-core processor, although it’s also possible these references are related to a much more distant release. But since Android(s goog) phones with quad-core processors are already making their debuts, and quad-core Android tablets have already hit the market, it does seem likely Apple would want to anticipate the wider uptake of that tech in its 2012 mobile lineup.