It came as a surprise to many when Apple released the iPad 4 in November after having made March their month for releasing new tablets in the past. Does that mean it was a gateway release, and we can expect to see the next generation on schedule in the Spring? Time will tell, but let’s look at some of the rumors that have already been going around.

The first rumors to come in were about the shape and size of the iPad 5. The thought is that Apple will be trying to use the sleek design of the Mini in their full size tablet. While it may not be the top smaller tablet, the Mini is one of the most stylish. A slimmer design will make the iPad nicer for users who want to hold their device with just one hand on occasion.

But why would Apple release their new products only months apart? While there is no way to know for sure, one could guess that it has to do with the high amount of competition they now face from Google and Microsoft after several years of being atop the industry. Both the Surface and the Nexus are powerful new contenders on the scene.

We also are all expecting a 2nd generation Mini, since the first was clearly rushed. But again, there is no information about when, just rumors about Retina finally making its way to the device.

So are these legitimate leaks, speculations, or attempts to raise hype for a product that is still a long way off? Obviously, we won’t know for sure until the next generation of iPad tablets are officially released.  But if you are a fan of Apple, you no doubt are eager with anticipation for whatever gem they share with us next. And according to the rumor mill, you may not have to wait all that long.