The Evolution of iOS: iOS 1 to iOS 16

Over the years, Apple has offered the world – which includes millions of iPhone and iPad users as well as an ever-growing developer community – 16 remarkable iOS versions. On a year-over-year basis, updates that have consistently raised the threshold of excellence.

Apple gives the world, especially app entrepreneurs, reasons to choose a reputable iPhone application development business to begin their app entrepreneurship adventure on an annual basis. Reasons that are fueled by the innovation that they continue to incorporate into their annual releases.

These upgrades are not just anticipated by iOS app developers and entrepreneurs, but also by Google, which looks to them for inspiration. And now, with the official release of iOS 16, all eyes are once again on Apple. 

Let’s take a look back at all the changes that iOS version history has witnessed over time, starting with the days when they weren’t even called “iOS versions.”

Evolution of iOS

iPhone OS 1

It was the one that started it all, and it came pre-installed on the first iPhone. At the time of its release, this version of the operating system was not known as iOS. Apple refers to it as the iPhone OS from versions 1-3. With version 4, the name was changed to iOS.

It’s difficult to express to modern readers who have used the iPhone for years just how revolutionary this version of the operating system was. Significant advancements included support for multitouch screens, Visual Voicemail, and iTunes integration.

While this initial release was a big step forward at the time, it lacked many of the features that would later become synonymous with the iPhone, such as support for true third-party apps. Calendar, Photos, Camera, Notes, Safari, Mail, Phone, and iPod were among the pre-installed programmes (which was later split into the Music and Videos apps). The first version of the software compatible with the iPod touch was Version 1.1, which was published in September 2007.

New Features Include:

  • Voicemail with a visual interface
  • Interface with several touch point
  • Safari browser.
  • App for music

iPhone OS 2

Apple introduced iOS 2.0 (formerly dubbed iPhone OS 2.0) to coincide with the launching of the iPhone 3G, a year after the iPhone became a bigger hit than almost everyone predicted.

The App Store, with its support for true third-party apps, was the most significant change in this edition (rather than web apps). At the time of its inception, the App Store had around 500 apps available. Hundreds of other important enhancements were also made.

Podcast support, as well as public transportation and walking directions in Maps, were introduced in the 5 updates to iPhone OS 2.0. (both in version 2.2).

New Features Include:

  • App Store
  • Maps app has been improved.

iPhone OS 3

The iPhone 3GS was released at the same time as this version of iOS was released. Copy and paste, Spotlight search, MMS support in the Messages app, and the ability to record videos with the Camera app were all included.

This version of iOS was also famous for being the first to support the iPad. The first iPad was released in 2010, and it came with version 3.2 of the software.

New Features Include:

  • Copying and pasting
  • Recording videos 
  • Spotlight search

iOS 4

In iOS 4, many characteristics of the contemporary iOS started to take shape. FaceTime, multitasking, iBooks, grouping apps into folders, Personal Hotspot, AirPlay, and AirPrint were all first introduced in separate revisions to this version.

Another significant change that came with iOS 4 was the term “iOS.” As previously stated, the iOS name was introduced for this version, replacing the “iPhone OS” moniker.

This was also the first iOS release to remove support for all iOS devices. It was not compatible with the first-generation iPhone or iPod touch. Some earlier models that were technically compatible were unable to take advantage of all of the new features. 

New Features Include:

  • FaceTime
  • Multitasking
  • AirPlay
  • AirPrint
  • iBooks
  • Personal Wi-Fi

iOS 5

Apple included vital new features and platforms in iOS 5 in response to the growing trend of wirelessness and cloud computing. iCloud, the ability to activate an iPhone wirelessly (before, it required a connection to a computer), and iTunes syncing through Wi-Fi were among them.

iMessage and Notification Center are two more features that have become essential to the iOS experience.

Apple dropped support for the iPhone 3G, 1st generation iPad, and 2nd and 3rd generation iPod touch with iOS 5.

New Features Include:

  • iCloud
  • iMessage
  • Center for Notifications
  • Activation and synchronisation via wireless

iOS 6

One of the most prominent topics of iOS 6 was controversy. While this version introduced the world to Siri — a really innovative technology that was later eclipsed by competitors — issues with it led to big revisions.

Apple’s increased competition with Google, whose Android smartphone platform was posing a threat to the iPhone, was the cause of these issues. Since the iPhone 1.0, Google has included the Maps and YouTube apps pre-installed. That changed with iOS 6.

Apple released their own Maps app, which was met with mixed reviews due to glitches, erroneous instructions, and issues with key functionalities. Apple CEO Tim Cook instructed Scott Forstall, the head of iOS development, to make a public apology as part of the company’s attempts to resolve the issues. Cook dismissed him after he refused. Forstall had been associated with the iPhone from its inception, thus this was a significant shift.

New Features Include:

  • Do Not Disturb
  • Apple Maps
  • Passbook (now Wallet)

iOS 7

When iOS 7 was released, it was met with a lot of scepticism, just like iOS 6. Unlike iOS 6, however, the source of dissatisfaction among iOS 7 users was not a lack of functionality. Rather, it was due to the fact that things had changed.

Following the departure of Scott Forstall, Jony Ive, Apple’s head of design, who had previously primarily focused on hardware, was appointed to manage iOS development. I’ve included a big reworking of the user interface in this version of iOS, aimed to make it more modern.

While the look was more modern, some users found the small, thin fonts difficult to read, and frequent animations induced motion sickness in others. The current iOS design is a result of the modifications made in iOS 7. Complaints faded once Apple made improvements and people gained accustomed to the changes.

New Features Include:

  • Locked Activation
  • AirDrop
  • CarPlay
  • Control Room
  • Touch ID 

iOS 8

In iOS 8.0, more consistent and steady operation was restored. With the substantial modifications of the previous two generations behind them, Apple refocused on offering significant new features.

Apple Pay, a secure, contactless payment system, and the Apple Music subscription service, which debuted with the iOS 8.4 update, were among these innovations

With the release of the Dropbox-like iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, and iCloud Music Library, the iCloud platform has continued to improve.

New Features Include:

  • Apple Music
  • Apple Pay
  • iCloud Storage
  • Handoff
  • Sharing with the family
  • Keyboards from third parties
  • HomeKit

iOS 9

Many analysts began to claim that iOS was no longer the reliable, dependable, and competent performance it had once been after a few years of big changes to both the UI and technology base. They proposed that Apple concentrate on improving the OS’s base before introducing additional features.

That’s exactly what Apple did with iOS 9. While it included some new features, this version was mostly focused on securing the OS’s basis for the future.

On older devices, significant improvements were made in speed and responsiveness, stability, and performance. iOS 9 was a significant reset that lay the framework for the more significant upgrades in iOS 10 and 11.

Key New Features​:

  • Night Shift
  • Low Power Mode
  • Public beta program

iOS 10

Apple’s iOS ecosystem has long been referred to as a “walled garden” because it’s a lovely place to be on the inside, but it’s difficult to get into. This was mirrored in the many restrictions Apple imposed on the iOS UI and the app options it provided.

In iOS 10, cracks appeared in the walled garden, which Apple fixed. Interoperability and customisation were two significant themes of iOS 10. Apps on a smartphone could now connect directly with one another, allowing one programme to utilise functionality from another without having to launch the second. Third-party apps now have access to Siri in new ways. Apps were even embedded into iMessage at this point.

Aside from that, users now had more options for personalising their experiences, such as the ability to delete built-in apps (finally!) and new animations and effects to punctuate their text messages.

New Features Include: 

  • iMessage apps
  • Remove any built-in programmes.

iOS 11

iOS was created with the intention of being used on the iPhone. It has since been updated to provide compatibility for the iPod touch and iPad (and versions of it even power the Apple Watch and Apple TV). The focus of iOS 11 shifted away from the iPhone and toward the iPad.

Sure, iOS 11 brings a slew of new features to the iPhone, but the focus of the update is on making the iPad Pro series models viable laptop alternatives for some customers.

This is accomplished through a series of tweaks that make iOS on the iPad behave more like a desktop operating system. Drag and drop functionality, split screen apps and multiple workspaces, a file browser app, and support for notation and handwriting with the Apple Pencil are among the new features.

Key New Features​:

  • Augmented Reality
  • AirPlay 2
  • Major enhancements on iPad

iOS 12

The new features and upgrades in iOS 12 aren’t as vast or groundbreaking as they have been in prior versions of the operating system. Instead, iOS 12 focused on improving how users use their smartphones by refining regularly used features and adding wrinkles.

Improvements to Siri, including as Siri Shortcuts, better Augmented Reality with ARKit 2, and offering users and parents options to monitor and restrict their device use with Screen Time were among the highlights of iOS 12.

New Features Include:

  • Notifications in Groups
  • Screen Time
  • ARKit 2 is the second iteration of the ARKit
  • Siri has been improved, with Siri Shortcuts and multi-step actions being included.
  • Memoji is a type of Animoji that may be customised.

iOS 13

The greatest difference in iOS 13 is that the operating system no longer operates on iPads. This is related to the launch of iPadOS (which begins with version 13). That’s a new operating system aimed at making the iPad more usable as a productivity tool and a possible laptop replacement. It’s built on iOS 13 and includes many of the same features as iOS 13, but it also includes iPad-specific capabilities.

Aside from that, iOS 13 improves key core functions, like as app launch speed, Face ID unlock speed, and the revamp of pre-installed apps like Reminders, Notes, Safari, and Mail. The Dark Mode is perhaps the most noticeable new feature, but the modifications go far deeper and strengthen the already-strong OS.

Key New Features​:

  • System-wide Dark Mode
  • Sign In With Apple user account system
  • New privacy and security options
  • New Portrait Lighting options
  • Look Around, a Google Street View-style feature for Apple Maps
  • New, improved Siri voice
  • Overhauled stock apps like Reminders and Notes​

iOS 14

The updates released with iOS 14 don’t have a single primary change or theme. Instead, this version is a combination of minor and medium-sized changes to the user interface, functionality, and overall ease of use that work together to improve the iPhone experience.

The addition of Homescreen Widgets, the ability to choose default apps in some circumstances, and greater privacy controls are perhaps the most noticeable changes.

New Features Include:

  • Homescreen Widgets allow you to create your own personalised home screens and shortcuts.
  • Smart Stacks that deliver different Homescreen Widgets based on your habits at different times of the day.
  • Set third-party email and web browser programmes as defaults.
  • App Library is a new way to organise apps and keep your desktop tidy.
  • Clips from Apps
  • Image in image mode
  • Improved privacy features to prevent internet tracking.
  • 11 languages have built-in language translation.
  • Along with other AirPods upgrades, spatial audio for AirPods provides surround sound.
  • Changes to the design allow phone calls and FaceTime calls to take up less screen real estate, allowing you to multitask.
  • iMessage has a slew of new features for group texts, including threaded responses and mentions.
  • Memoji, a personalized kind of Animoji

iOS 15

iOS 15 is more of a compilation of enhancements to the iPhone platform than a themed release, similar to iOS 14. In general, iOS 15 advances a number of key features that Apple has been working on for a number of releases: Improves security and privacy, eliminates more ad tracking, and enhances Siri and the camera app, among other things.

The recent remote-work trend has affected some of the most significant advancements. Updates to FaceTime audio, support for FaceTime conferencing on the web and Android, improvements to the Messages app, and more are all included in this category.

New Features Include:

  • FaceTime has received a slew of updates aiming at improving the app’s usability and broadening its audience, including:
  • SharePlay
  • Spatial Audio
  • Enhanced Mic Modes
  • Portrait Mode
  • Cross-Platform compatibility
  • Depending on what you’re doing at the time, Focus provides a set of smart notification and communication options.
  • Major enhancements to the Photos app include:
  • Live Text
  • Visual search
  • It adds the following to Apple’s continuous commitment to customer privacy:
  • The App Privacy Report
  • Mail Privacy Protection
  • On-device Siri recordings
  • Support for iCloud+, which includes new Homekit and VPN-like functions.
  • Notifications are scheduled and a summary is provided.
  • Maps’ driving directions have been improved.
  • Safari has a new interface and tools for managing tabs and groups of tabs.
  • Improved methods for finding information shared with you and sharing medical data from the Health app with your family.

iOS 16

At WWDC 2022, Apple’s annual developer conference, iOS 16, Apple’s next major iPhone operating system, made a tremendous splash. You may modify texts you’ve already sent in the Messages app with iOS 16, and you’ll gain additional tools to personalise your iPhone, such as the ability to adjust the design of your lock screen and new privacy features for individuals in abusive situations. All of this adds up to an iOS that appears to be new and modern on paper. iOS 16 is expected to be released in September, along with the much-rumored iPhone 14, and will be compatible with iPhone 8 and later.

New Features Include:

  • It lets you edit and ‘unsend’ messages
  • SharePlay comes to Messages
  • Visual Lookup’s tap and drag for photos
  • Wallet and Apple Pay Later
  • Notifications and live activities
  • Phone gets a new customizable lock screen

Summing Up 

Since Steve Jobs initially introduced the world to Apple’s latest device, the iPhone, in 2007, a lot has happened. The iPhone has contributed to make cell phones the most significant piece of technology in our lives, as well as spawning a new industry of app developers, since its release.

The way we use our smartphones has also evolved significantly. It’s not just a fancy BlackBerry that we use to make calls and send emails anymore. On June 6, Apple hosted its WWDC, during which they revealed their latest version, its latest mobile operating system, as well as new ways to use our iPhones.

Check our latest blogs to know more about the upcoming advancements in technology.

To suit your business’s web application development needs, you can engage iOS developers at Nestack. We will provide you with the appropriate solution for your projects and execute them efficiently and securely. 

At Nestack, we provide you with advanced infrastructure and skilled professionals. Our developers will help you with your projects and deliver consistent performance. 

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