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iOS Versions and Features


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iOS History: The Evolving iPad/iPhone OS
Apple, Inc.

The "iPhone OS" was officially named iOS in 2010, a move took into consideration the shift from simply running the iPhone and iPod Touch to also being the platform for the iPad. It's first appearance on the original iPhone included many of the default apps we still see today, such as the Safari browser, Mail app, Calendar, Notes, Clock, Photos and Camera. But it wasn't until the second version introduced the App Store that the operating system really became the game-changing device we know today. This look at iOS's history will start with the most recent iOS update and work back through time, detailing the evolution of the operating system.

iOS 7 Details:

Tim Cook named the as-of-yet unreleased iOS 7 was called the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone. And from a visual standpoint, he is right. The new user interface is a sharp departure from the skeuomorphism scheme introduced in iOS 3.2.

  • New User Interface. A complete overhaul of the interface to a flatter and more transparent look and feel.
  • iTunes Radio. A subscription-based music solution including personalized stations.
  • Multitasking Improvements. Intelligent multitasking that keeps apps up-to-date even when they aren't active.
  • New Control Center. The control center has received an overhaul.
  • AirDrop. Wireless share photos and data with nearby Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad or Macs. Requires the latest version of mobile devices.
  • Photo Filters. Apply filters directly in the Camera and Photos apps.
  • Siri. Siri gains new male and female voices in addition to greater access to databases.
  • FaceTime Audio. FaceTime now supports audio-only phone calls.
  • Improved Folders. Folders gain multiple pages, allowing for more apps.

More About iOS 7.x

iOS 6 Details:

iOS 6 may be known more for what it did wrong than right. Maps was universally panned as having incorrect data and simply not being as good as the Google Maps app it replaced, and the redesigned App Store frustrated users with a less-than-friendly experience.

  • Siri on the iPad. Siri debuted on the iPad with a range of improvements, including the ability to launch apps, look up sports scores and check reviews on Yelp.
  • Maps. Google Maps was replaced by Apple's own Maps app, which included a 3D view of major cities.
  • App Store. A redesigned app store arrived with larger detail tabs for apps.
  • Facebook. iOS 6 allows the operating system to be connected to Facebook, making sharing status updates and photos much easier.
  • FaceTime. The FaceTime video conferencing software was improved to allow calls to be placed over the data connection.
  • Shared Photo Streams. Adding to the Photo Streams that debuted in iOS 5, custom Photo Streams can now be shared among friends and family. More about Photo Streams
  • Passbook. The new passbook app added a central location for tickets, coupons, boarding passes and other payment types.

More About iOS 6.x

iOS 5 Details:

iOS 5 included some of the biggest changes to the operating system, including the ability to cut the cord with the PC by allowing wireless activation. It also included the talking assistant Siri and iCloud, Apple's newest (and best) cloud service.

  • Siri. The most easily recognizable addition to iOS 5 was Siri, Apple's voice recognition 'personal assistant'. Siri allows for 'real world' communication for getting help, setting reminders and finding nearby shops and restaurants. A Guide to Siri
  • iCloud. The iCloud replaced previous cloud services like MobileMe. The ability to backup to iCloud allowed the iPad and iPhone to cut the cord with the PC, with wireless activation and cloud backups replacing iTunes syncing. iCloud also runs other cloud-based services like Photo Stream and cloud bookmarks.
  • Wireless Activation/Syncing/Updates. Devices can be activated and updated without being connected to a PC, and iTunes syncing can be done wirelessly.
  • iMessage. Apple's new messaging service allows for free text messaging between iOS devices as well as powering standard text messaging to non-iOS devices.
  • Notification Center. The new notification center can be pulled down from the top of the screen to provide a central location for recent notifications like new mail, text messages, event notifications and app push notifications.

More About iOS 5.x

iOS 4 Details:

iOS 4 was broken into several major releases, with the original release bringing big features like folders and multitasking, and major updates adding the Game Center, AirPlay, AirPrint and expanding some 4.0 features to the iPad.


  • Home Sharing. iOS devices now support home sharing, allowing wireless sharing of music and movies from iTunes on a PC to the iOS device. A Guide to Home Sharing
  • AirPlay App Support. AirPlay can now be used by any app.


  • AirPlay. iOS devices now support AirPlay, which allows the device to wirelessly connect with AirPlay-compatible accessories like speakers and Apple TV.
  • AirPrint. This features adds the ability to wirelessly print to AirPrint-compatible printers.
  • iPad Multitasking/Folders. The ability to multitask and organize apps into folders comes to the iPad.


  • Game Center. A native gaming network to connect with friends and post high scores/achievements in games.
  • TV Show Rentals/HD Videos. Support for HD videos over Wi-Fi and TV Show rentals.
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photos. HDR photos shoot three photos in rapid succession and then combine them to create a single photo.


  • Multitasking. iOS gains limited multitasking, including fast app switching and the ability for services like music to continue in the background.
  • FaceTime. Apple's video conferencing app debuts alongside the iPhone 4.
  • Folders. Apps can now be organized into customized photos. How to Create Folders on the iPad
  • Enhanced Email. A new unified inbox organized mail, and support for ActiveSync accounts and multiple Exchange accounts was added.

More About iOS 4.x

iOS 3 Details:

The third generation of iOS was broken into two major updates: the first added push notification and copy & paste capability, while the second update introduced the iPad.


  • Skeuomorphism. This user interface scheme introduced the idea of representing apps by physical objects, such as the yellow legal pad look of the Notes app.
  • UI Support. New user interface elements were introduced to support the larger display.
  • App Enhancements. Many of the default apps were touched up to account for the larger screen of the iPad, such as Safari receiving a bookmarks row.

More About iOS 3.2


  • Push Notifications. 3rd-party apps can now utilize the same push notifications used in the Mail and Phone apps.
  • Cut/Copy/Paste. Text selection and the ability to cut, copy and paste text was added in iOS 3. Tutorial on Copy and Paste
  • Spotlight Search. A new search screen allowed searches across content, including a search for music, apps, email and more.
  • Compass. The Compass app was added for the iPhone 3GS.
  • Find my iPhone. This popular GPS-tracking feature has made the news for helping track down stolen iPhones.

iOS 2.0 Details:

While the iPhone is credited for reinventing the smartphone market, it was really the app store introduced in iOS 2.0 that had such a broad impact.

  • App Store. Apple's App Store provided a centralized location for finding, buying and installing apps on the device. This was in stark contrast to most smartphones, where buying 3rd party apps usually meant hunting them down on the web.
  • App Development. Corresponding with the introduction of the App Store was the SDK released for iOS. This development kit allowed faster app creation.
  • MobileMe. Apple's first attempt at a cloud-based service was a subscription service.
  • Google StreetView. Google's popular street view was introduced on iOS with the 2.2 update.

iOS 1.0 Details:

The first version of iOS, known at the time simply as the iPhone OS, provided many of the basic apps and out-of-the-box functionality we still enjoy today.

  • Google Maps. With the iPhone's pinch-to-zoom and other interface advances, Google Maps became a much more usable mobile feature.
  • Safari. Apple's mobile web browser was the first web browser extensively used on the 'mobile web'. Embracing the latest web features, the first 'apps' were really web pages pinned to the iPhone's home screen. This ability to pin apps was added in v1.1.3.
  • iTunes Sync. A combination phone/ipod, the ability to sync with iTunes allowed an easy way to get music on the smartphone.
  • iTunes Music. The ability to buy music directly from the phone was added with v1.1.1.
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