How Apple’s iOS Became What It Is Today

There are few brands more recognizable in the 21st century than Apple. The iconic bitten apple logo can be found in homes and pockets across the globe, owing to the products’ quality. 

Famous as the company of the late Steve Jobs, Apple produces a range of electronic products. Their latest watches, tablets, smartphones and computers often find themselves at the top of Christmas and birthday lists. 

After the release of the original model in 2007, Apple’s iPhone remains one of the most popular smartphones globally. Time has seen new designs and features that make the current iPhone one of the most advanced in the world. 

Whilst the phones themselves are rightfully appreciated, the pioneering operating system that enables them deserves equal praise. Every function of the iPhone is only possible because of the iOS operating systems on which it runs. 

These operating systems and their capabilities have drastically improved over the years just as have the smartphone models themselves. This article details a timeline of how Apple’s iOS has changed over the years. 

The Original iPhone Operating System

Whilst it was ground-breaking technology at the time, the original iPhone operating system was understandably lacking. A glaring omission was the absence of the old app stores, meaning it was restricted to a few preinstalled apps.  

The internet browser and YouTube app were functional but very basic. The limited apps available originally are in stark contrast to the many that come by default today. 

The original iOS did include an update a year after its original release, similar to the frequent updates seen today.

iOS 2- iOS 3

The next iOS system seen, recognized as iOS 2, was released in 2008 and by default on the iPhone 3G. A huge stride for this version was the inclusion of third-party apps and an App Store. 

The original Appstore accommodated just 500 apps, compared to over one million today. This was the genesis for many iconic iPhone games such as angry birds, paper toss and cut the rope. 

iOS 3 was released in conjunction with the iPhone 3G S back in 2009. This added a range of new features such as voice control, multimedia messaging, video recording and a landscape keyboard. 

With the iPads release in 2010, this was the first version compatible with both the iPhone and iPad.

iOS 4- iOS 5

The iconic iBooks and FaceTime were both first seen with the release of iOS 4, launched with the iPhone 4. For the first time, iPod users didn’t have to pay to access this latest iOS. 

iOS 5 saw the release of Siri, iMessage, iCloud and computer connectivity, all unveiled with the iPhone 4S. 

iOS 6- iOS 7

iOS 6 included many upgrades and better functionality for most apps, but no new big functions. This came standard with the iPhone 5 and iPad mini and saw the iPhone capable of supporting casino games. 

This led to a proliferation of new casino games emerging on the App Store, which quickly surged in popularity due to their fun factor. Other factors included their fast loading times and simplicity when accessing the user interface which many other developers fail to replicate successfully. 

iOS 7 prioritised rectifying the mistakes made previously with the iPhone’s maps app, which was plagued by bugs. This also saw the implementation of Touch ID, allowing for phone access utilising the user’s fingerprint.


iOS 8- iOS 9

Apple pay was first introduced with iOS 8 on the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2. 

iOS 9 was another update that prioritised stability over the addition of new features. This includes longer battery life and easier reinstallation of deleted apps. 

iOS 10- iOS 11

iOS 10 is another modest update that added nothing revolutionary. Slight tweaks and upgrades for existing apps was its purpose. 

Released in 2017, iOS 11 added the dock feature making closing and switching apps seamless. Upgraded Apple pay facilitated cash transfers using iMessage. 

This iteration was also the first to include AR compatibility. 

iOS 12- iOS 13

iOS 12 was another release aimed at enhancing responsiveness and performance, even for older iPhone models. This update also included an enhanced ARKit, allowing for better augmented reality compatibility. 

June 2019 saw the release of iOS 13, including reduced download sizes for apps. Faster Face ID was also a feature, and, for the first time, iPad would receive its own operating system, iPadOS. 


iOS 14- iOS 15

iOS 14 allowed people to continue using apps whilst receiving a FaceTime call. It also included cycling directions on maps and the ability to use an iPhone to unlock and start compatible vehicles. 

iOS 15 allowed FaceTime to include non-iOS users. Share play was introduced, allowing people to simultaneously watch TV whilst video calling. 

Whilst nowadays many smartphones share similar functions to that on iPhones, they were often first implemented on Apple’s iOS. Over the years, there have been frequent tweaks and updates that have ensured it remains one of the world’s best when using social media platforms

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