In 2007, Apple released its first mobile operating system. Since then the iOS evolution has proceeded remarkably with new and improved features introduced along the line.
iOS, iPhone Operating System, is the operating system the iPhone and iPod touch operates on to support other programs and applications.
iOS evolution: Here is a brief history of each Apple iOS versions
iOS 1 (iPhone OS 1)
Apple’s first mobile operating system was introduced on June 29th, 2007 with the first iPhone. Versions 1-3 were addressed as iPhone OS before it was changed to iOS in the fourth version. The new features for this first version included Safari web browser, visual voicemail, iTunes music store and multi-touch interface. An update in 2008 allowed a customizable home screen which made users drag apps to desired home pages.
iOS 2 (iPhone OS 2)
The iPhone OS 2 was launched on July 8th, 2008 with the iPhone 3G. This version initiated the App Store with 500 available apps which supported third-party apps. More features included push emails, podcast downloads, Microsoft Exchange support and maps with GPS.
iOS 3 (iPhone OS 3)
This was released on June 19th, 2008 with the iPhone 3G S. This version was made to support the iPad which was introduced in 2010. New features included video recording, push notifications, USB & Bluetooth tethering, spotlight search, MMS support, find my iPhone, voice control, remote lock and copy and paste function.
This was released on June 22nd, 2010 with the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. “iOS” became the official name. iOS evolution began fully with this version because many features we see in the recent iOS versions were first introduced here. Newly introduced features included app folders, FaceTime, multitasking, wallpapers, iBooks, hotspot, spell-check, Wi-Fi tethering, airplay, etc.
It was released along with the iPhone 4S on October 12th, 2011. iCloud was introduced which offered the ability to activate an iPhone wirelessly. Other features included Siri, reminders, notification center, iMessage, Twitter, newsstand and capability to sync iTunes through Wi-Fi.
This was released on September 19th, 2012 with the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini. This version brought notable updates to many popular apps e.g. Apple Maps app with turn-by-turn navigation, an improved Siri, etc. Google Maps and YouTube were no longer pre-installed. New features included passbook, Do Not Disturb, LTE support, Facebook integration, etc.
Released on September 18th, 2013. It was included with the iPhone 5C, 5S, iPad Air and iPad Mini 2. The current iOS design emerged from the modifications made in this version. Features included auto-update option, AirDrop, CarPlay, iTunes radio, flat design, control center, auto-update option and touch ID.
It was released on September 17th, 2014 with the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2. Newly introduced features included family sharing, HomeKit, HealthKit, Apple Pay, Apple Music, iCloud drive, support for third-party keyboards, etc.
Released on September 16th, 2015 with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Main aim was to improve performance, speed and stability. Features included updated maps app and notes app (adding images and drawing sketches), news app, Wallet, low power mode, android migration, public beta program, night shift, etc.
Released on September 13th, 2016. New apps were added to iMessage and third-party developers were granted access to Siri. New features included access to information on the lock screen, updated widget screen, emoji effect & animations and ability to delete built-in apps.
Released on September 19th, 2017. Focused mainly on the iPad (Drag & drop, Apple Pencil, Dock, files app, Dock, split screen, multitasking). Others included Apple Pay cash, automatic setup for new iPhone, augmented reality (ARKit), etc.
Released on September 17th, 2018. Features included Apple books, memoji characters, Siri shortcuts, Screen time, group FaceTime, ARKit 2 (advanced augmented reality) and intelligence tracking prevention in Safari.
Released on September 19th, 2019. iOS stopped running on iPad and iPadOS was released. Apple introduced Dark mode, sign-in with Apple, faster face ID unlock, updated camera, photo and portrait lighting, etc.
Released on September 16th, 2020. Features include picture-in-picture, home screen widgets, App clips, car key feature with NFC, translation software for 11 languages and App library (organizes apps on one page).
Released on September 24th, 2021. Significant features include FaceTime updates (adding non-iOS users, portrait mode, spatial audio, SharePlay), new focus tools, recognizing texts in photos, improved privacy and on-device Siri.
Also read: Android Evolution