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Apple’s iOS through the years (2007-2018)

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Steve Jobs demonstrated the first iPhone Mac in January 2007, he famously stated that smartphones at the time had ‘baby software’ while referring to WAP as the ‘baby internet’.

that may be true, it’s easy to go back today and highlight of the ios. when it came to operating system development, Steve Jobs adamantly believed that you had to start humbly, focusing on the simple elements such as what a button would look like. its build upon the solid function.

iPhone OS 1
Announced: January 9, 2007

Released: June 29, 2007

iPhone OS was a seminal achievement. Running a modified version of OS X, the Apple’s Mac OS (Operating System), their engineers, had a number challenges ahead. Not only did the code base have to be reduced to a tenth of its size, during development engineers had to simulate chip speeds, and the impact on battery life as the physical chips would not be manufactured until much later into the development cycle.

Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class.

The first one: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.

The second: is a revolutionary mobile phone.

And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device.

So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device.

An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … Are you getting it?

These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.

_ Steve Jobs.

the above statement shocked the world when Steve jobs was introducing the new iPhone.

While on its single, non-editable Home screen the following built-in applications were provided;

  • YouTube • Stocks • Maps • Weather
  • Text • Calendar • Photos • Camera
  • Clock • Calculator • Notes • Settings

The non-editable dock contained;

  • iPod – music/video player
  • Mail – HTML e-mail
  • Phone – including Visual VoiceMail
  • Safari – web browser

iPhone OS 1 introduced many of the concepts that we’re familiar with today including slide to unlock, multi-touch including pinch to zoom and badge notifications. What was missing? Famously, Text didn’t support the widely adopted MMS standard, you couldn’t search in the Contacts app, while Copy & Paste including other features such as wallpapers would be added in future iOS release.

They introduced new features rapidly during the lifecycle of iPhone OS 1. Headline additions included;

  • Spacebar double-tap shortcut to insert full stop and space
  • iTunes store debuted
  • Home button double-click shortcut to phone favorites or music controls
  • Icons on the home screens got the option to be rearranged and placed on multiple home screens (up to nine).
  • Web Clips could be added to (and subsequently removed from) the home screen
  • Maps gained the ‘Locate Me’ feature to determine the phone’s approximate location, using a combination of cellular triangulation and Wi-Fi data from Skyhook Wireless; also hybrid map support and the ‘Drop Pin’ feature
  • SMS messages could be sent to multiple contacts using messages

iPhone OS 2

Announced: March 2008

Released: July 11, 2008

The headline feature for iPhone OS 2 was the introduction of Apps. At launch, there were circa 500 apps available, while today there are several million of apps.

Other notable changes included;

  • Ability to view iWork and MS Office attachments in e-mail
  • Emoji support for Japan. Other countries can access via apps
  • Multiple calendars support
  • Separate Contacts app with search for contacts
  • Pictures downloads from Safari and Mail to Photos
  • Parental controls
  • Scientific calculator in landscape mode
  • iTunes no longer restricted to Wi-Fi only
  • Google Street View for Maps; location sharing via e-mail
  • Full Push e-mail supporting mass move and delete
  • Pressing the Home button from any Home screen navigates to the first Home screen

iPhone OS 3

Announced: March 2009

Released: June 17, 2009


Other notable changes included;

  • Turn-by-turn navigation support
  • Photos trimming within the Photos app and delete multiple apps
  • Find My iPhone option for MobileMe
  • Tethering over USB and Bluetooth

During the lifecycle of iPhone OS 3, Apple launched the iPad resulting in Apple renaming iPhone OS to iOS. iOS 3.2 was launched alongside the original iPad.

iOS 3 introduced the long-anticipated system-wide ‘cut, copy and paste’. Spotlight was introduced, providing a search including contacts, e-mail, notes, and apps. While the number of Home Screens was expanded to 11, allowing for 180 apps.

Text application got renamed to Messages and gained support for MMS. Camera app gained auto-focus while video recording is now supported for the newly announced iPhone 3GS.

iOS 4

Announced: March 2010

Released: June 21, 2010

Other notable changes included;

  • FaceTime
  • 5x digital zoom for the Camera app
  • Unified inboxes in Mail
  • Updated carrier signal strength display and updated method for calculating signal strength (fall-out from antennagate)
  • AirPlay
  • AirPrint via Print Center
  • Multi-tasking tray supporting Volume controls, AirPlay controls, Brightness and screen rotation/lock switch
  • Personal HotSpot

This was the first iOS release to drop support for older devices, namely the original iPhone and iPod Touch. Functionally, iOS 4 was notable for introducing folders onto the Home screen and supporting custom Home screen wallpapers. Fast app switching was introduced while limited multi-tasking features were also added along with background audio playback.

iOS 5

Announced: June 6, 2011

Released: October 12, 2011

Other notable changes included;

  • Camera short-cut from lock screen
  • iMessages synced across iOS devices
  • Group messaging
  • iPad multi-tasking gestures
  • Volume up key as shutter release
  • iPod app removed, replaced by Music and Videos apps
  • Photos got built-in photo editing for crop, red-eye, auto-enhance and rotation
  • Syncing content between devices via iCloud, including Photos, Contacts, Calendars, Notes, Reminders, Mail, Safari bookmarks, Settings and backups
  • Full built-in Emoji support

ntroducing Siri. iOS 5 brought Apple’s Digital Assistant (beta) to the world. Notifications got a substantial overhaul with temporary banners appearing at the top of the screen and all consolidated in the Notification Center. The iOS dependence on a computer was further reduced as System Software Updates could be downloaded wirelessly, while content could be synced via Apples iCloud web-services.

iOS 6

Announced: June 11, 2012

Released: September 19, 2012

Other notable changes included;

  • Panorama Mod
  • Siri further enhanced to provide information on sports, local searches around the world, movie information, ability to book restaurant tables, launch apps and read notifications. Eyes Free would be the first foray into the automotive world.
  • Shared Photo streams
  • FaceTime over cellular

iOS 6 was infamous for the new Apple Maps app that replaced Google Maps providing 3D overviews, Satellite views, and Flyover for 3D satellite views. Data inaccuracies resulted in an open letter of apology from CEO Tim Cook and the departure of Scott Forstall. Siri further increased its reach by becoming available on the 3rd generation iPad and above, iPad Mini and 5th Generation iPod Touch. Boarding a plane would never be the same again as the Passbook app was introduced to manage boarding passes, tickets, loyalty cards and coupons.

iOS 7

Announced: June 10, 2013

Released: September 18, 2013

Other notable changes included;

  • AirDrop for wirelessly sharing content between Apple devices
  • CarPlay
  • Siri redesign and new voices
  • New system font
  • New system-wide back navigation gesture, swipe from left edge of the screen
  • Spotlight Search available from all Home screens
  • Redesigned app switcher with new swipe to close gesture
  • Dynamic wallpapers and Parallax wallpapers
  • Block list for the Phone app
  • FaceTime Audio
  • iTunes Radio
  • Camera app with 120 fps video recording for supported hardware

Since it’s inception, iOS’s user interface had remained much the same and was starting to age in comparison to Android. This changed at its seventh major release.

Under the guidance of Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, iOS 7 introduced a substantially redesigned flat user interface and constructs that permeated throughout the whole of iOS. Goodbye skeuomorphism.

Also, iOS 7 added a new Notification Center, while the new Control Center provided fast access to the most commonly used controls and features.

iOS 7 was oft criticized for being design-led as opposed to productivity focused, with usability hampered by needless animations and lack of consistency.

iOS 8

Announced: June 2, 2014

Released: September 17, 2014


Other notable changes included;

  • iCloud enhanced to support Photo Library and iCloud Drive
  • QuickType
  • Voice messages within Messages
  • New gestures for deletion, flagging or moving messages in Mail
  • Support for third party widgets in Today view
  • Flyover City Tours for Maps
  • Hey Siri for when a device is plugged into power
  • Wi-Fi calling
  • Weather data provided by The Weather Channel


After the significant redesign, iOS 8 was a polishing update, mopping many of the outstanding issues. It also brought together Apple’s iOS devices and Mac computers by introducing Hand Off and Continuity features.

Those allowed tasks started on one device to be picked up seamlessly on another. Answer a phone call on an iPad or Mac or send and receive SMS/MMS messages on an iPad or Mac.

Apple Pay launched with the iPhone 6/6 Plus. Later releases of iOS 8 would bring support for the Apple Watch and the launch of Apple Music. The HomeKit framework was announced providing support at an OS level for smart-home appliances and automation.

Apple also introduced Metal, a low overhead 3D hardware accelerated API providing improved performance for graphically rich games and applications

OS 9

Announced: June 8, 2015

Released: September 16, 2015

Other notable changes included;

  • Search for settings
  • Wallet replaced the Passbook app
  • Low Power Mode
  • Upper/Lower case keyboard
  • Wireless CarPlay

A new system-wide feature providing Proactive assistance was introduced, though Siri and advanced search, users are now presented with contextually aware information. The Notes app within iOS 9 received notable (pun intended) updates with the ability to add photos, hand-drawn sketches, different fonts within a note.

Apple added a new app called News, providing curated lists of personalized news content for iOS users, offering content from favorite websites and newspapers

The iPad multitasking experience was improved by the introducing Slide Over, Split View and Picture in picture.

3D touch came providing ‘peek’ & ‘pop’ functionality, while Night Shift made the display color warmer for more comfortable viewing in the evening.

iOS 10

Announced: June 13, 2016

Released: September 13, 2016

Other notable changes included:

  • The option to hide the majority of the built in apps
  • A new look for Maps
  • Face recognition for the Photos app
  • New Home app for controlling HomeKit accessories
  • All new design for Apple Music
  • Control Center redesign
  • 3D Touch extended to support Lock screen notifications
  • Find My AirPods added to Find My iPhone app

iOS 10 brought raise to wake as well as a new lock screen with gestures for accessing the camera and Today view.

Support for third-party VoIP for receiving calls on the Lock screen was also part of this release to keep up with the times, while the new iPhone 7 Plus introduced creating a fake bokkeh called Portrait mode.

iOS 11 – Current release

Announced: June 5, 2017

Released: September 19, 2017

Other notable changes included:

  • New Files manager app
  • New Siri voices
  • Photos enhanced to include new Loop, Bounce and Long Exposure effects for Live Photos
  • Enhanced iPad experience including all new dock, enhanced Slide Over and Split View and drag and drop between apps

Control Center was redesigned the last time Apple updated its mobile OS, bringing all controls together on one page and adding support for 3D Touch. The Lock screen and Notification Center got combined, while the App Store was completely redesigned. Augmented Reality apps got kick-started through ARKIt.

Apple Pay Cash debuted in the US, while the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X Apple introduced Studio Lighting into the Camera app.

Later releases introduced support for the Apple HomePod and the iPhone Battery Health (beta) feature.

iOS 11 had one of the slowest adoption rates of any previous iOS version and has been criticised for its battery life on iPhones that are only 1 or 2 generations old and for a number of high profile bugs.

iOS 12 The future – what we expect

Well done for making it this far, we tried to keep it as short as possible but the breadth of the subject matter made it all but impossible.

That’s why, we felt we’ll leave our iOS 12 impressions for another post that we’ll share with you on release date .


“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
― Steve Jobs

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