Minecon 2012 took place in Disneyland Paris over the weekend, and with it came some details about Mojang's plans for the next big Minecraft update. Version 1.5 is being nicknamed the "Redstone Update," and it's scheduled to come sometime in January. As the name implies, it will focus mostly on the power resource and its associated machinery.
GameSpot reports that the update is aimed at changing the way redstone behaves, to make it more consistent. For starters, redstone will have variable signal strength, and a new "capacitor" block will only output full power when the input has enough redstone strength. Other planned improvements are coming to minecarts, the addition of a daylight detector, fireworks, and a Nether-based ore (necessary for capacitors).
As an example, studio lead Jens Bergensten cited pressure plates that could change the signal strength based on the pressure, or detector rails that can output stronger when a minecart is filled. Those additions together could mean much more advanced automation options for those who have a firm grasp on the game's machinery.
Mojang also announced that it plans to release more frequent updates every two months focused around a certain feature or theme. A few possible additions the studio is mulling over include a new dimension after defeating the end boss, improvements to the combat system, updates to the snow biome, and bags for saddled pigs, among others.