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Apple's iOS 5.1 update rumored to launch March 9

Profiles created for different iPhone operators point to early March as a possible date for the release of iOS 5.1, one that could coincide with the debut of the iPad 3.

Screenshot by CNET

Apple's been mum lately about iOS 5.1, but new rumors suggest the update could launch on March 9.

Digging into profiles sent by Apple to various iPhone carriers, blog site YourDailyMac found a pointer to 09Mar2012 in one of the text strings. Aimed for operators in Japan, France, Greece, Finland, and Sweden, the profile files are designed to ensure that network connections will continue to work after iOS devices are updated to the latest version. The files are also said to be compatible with iOS 5.1, according to YourDailyMac.

Of course, like most rumors, this one should be taken with a grain of salt. Apple is usually too secretive to reveal a launch date in a simple text string. And even assuming the date has specific significance, it doesn't necessarily mean that's when iOS 5.1 will see the light of day.

Yet the timing would be right if Apple wants to coincide the release of IOS 5.1 with the launch of the iPad 3. The next version of the tablet is reportedly due to hit the market sometime next month. Fellow blog site The Verge has even latched onto March 9 as a potential launch date for the new tablet and February 29 as the unveiling date, with 2012 being a leap year.

"If Apple were planning on having these ready for the weekend of March 9, it seems relatively possible that they could choose that date...perhaps with a catchy theme like 'It's time to leap ahead,'" wrote The Verge's Joshua Topolsky.

The iPad 2 was unveiled on March 2 last year and then went on sale the following Friday, March 11. And the announcement of a new iOS version following the iPad 3 could provide that Jobsian "one more thing" touch that Apple fans have been missing.

The rumors don't answer the key question of whether iOS 5.1 will resolve the battery drain issue that's been plaguing iOS users.

Apple has so far pushed out three beta versions of the latest update to developers. Earlier releases of the beta garnered mixed results, with some reporting an improvement in battery life but others saying they saw no difference.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.