Following the release and successful testing of several snapshots, Mojang has plans to push the Minecraft 1.3 update live next month.
According to lead developer Jens Bergensten, Minecraft 1.3 is expected to go live on August 1.
"Ok, the plan is to get 1.3 out on August 1," Jens announced today, "with pre-releases a week prior to that."
Last week's snapshot 12w26a prepped the PC version for the 1.3 update and for the past couple of week's Mojang has been working to solve one major problem delaying the release. It was an issue regarding the hosting of a server in the background requiring more hardware resources to run the game. It looks like they finally solved that problem and things are back on track.
Over the next few weeks, you can expect weekly snapshots filled mostly with bug fixes and maybe a few small additions. Minecraft 1.3 will be a compilation of all of the features added in snapshots since the 1.2 update was released back in March. Update 1.2 introduced the new jungle biome, ocelots, iron golems, new AI, new map height limits, and tons of other features.
Update 1.3 will contain all of the additions seen in the snapshot pre-releases since then. However, it will be much more polished and bug free than the snapshots which serve primarily as pre-releases designed to test features. Since update 1.2 we've seen the addition of Redstone-activating blocks, creative mode inventory screen, cocoa plants, and much more! I'm sure the 1.3 update will have some hidden features as well.