Apple’s iPhones are the ultimate flagships and there’s no doubt that Apple sets the flagship parametres in more ways than one; from introducing the notch to making it a smartphone standard, the sheer influence of Cupertino on tech trends can’t be overstated.
If there is something praised more than iPhones, it is Apple’s ecosystem, with iOS at the centre. That’s the operating system which makes everything fall in place. However, early versions of iOS lacked a major chunk of features for which their devices are known today.
With the fresh iOS 16 in our hands, let’s take a trip down the memory lane to peek into every iOS version ever launched.
iPhoneOS – iOS 1
Apple’s first iPhone shipped with this operating system. It was shipped with iPhone on the historic date in Apple calendar – June 29 2007 – which embarks the birth of iPhones.
Interestingly, it wasn’t called iOS at that time – it was just iPhoneOS till iOS 3, or it was called then – iPhone OS 3. Thus, it was officially renamed as iOS following iOS 4.
iPhone – what is synonymous with flagship phones today lacked many of the modern-day features – including App Store at that time. What an era it would have been to use an iPhone without the App Store – does it strike your mind? Well, it was a reality then.
Fun Fact: The clownfish wallpaper you see in iOS 16 is inspired from Apple’s first iPhone.
It came nearly a year later in 2008 – probably after Apple’s iPhone became a big hit in the market. Cupertino’s tech giant released iPhoneOS 2 with iPhone 3G.
The biggest feature iPhoneOS 2 included was the inclusion of App Store – which at that time came with about 500 native and third-party apps – it might seem a little thing in 2022 but it was a huge deal back then.
Apple’s first ‘S’ device – iPhone 3GS, shipped with iPhoneOS 3. It brought a plethora of improvements and changes to the iPhone’s operating system, starting with copy-paste feature, spotlight search, MMS support in the Messages app and the capability to record videos via Camera app and way ahead of the time – push notifications.
It was notably the first iOS to extend its support to iPads.
It speaks of a time when Apple decided that it would not call it iPhoneOS anymore and just stick it to iOS. iOS 4 was released in 2010.
iOS 4 is regarded as the foundation of today’s iOS – obviously for the features it introduced – multitasking, home screen folders, etc. Nevertheless, some of features by which Apple is known today -Facetime, AirPlay, iBooks, Game Centre, etc – traces its history to iOS 4.
It was the time when Apple realised that there will be a thing called cloud storage in the future and people will prefer using it to store and access files and likewise, Apple introduced iCloud for the first time with iOS 5.
The list doesn’t end with iCloud – if Apple had a virtual brand ambassador who would it be? Siri. Another feature which came with iOS 5. iMessage – which released at the same time – turned out to be another Apple signature feature.
iOS 6 came with plenty of fixes and improvements from its predecessor, iOS 5 – which included an improved Siri – which was fully functional now.
With iOS 6, Apple released its own Maps to compete with the likes of Google Maps. However, Maps is an Apple-only feature.
iOS 7 is known to introduce key features like AirDrop and Control Centre.
A new control centre – at that time – would allow quick access to Wi-Fi, DND, Bluetooth, Brightness and volume adjuster. At that time, one would simply drag the screen from bottom to access it – except after notched iPhones were introduced, users have to slide the screen from top-right.
It was released in 2014. With iOS 8, Apple introduced a contact payment system to iPhones with Apple Pay. However, Apple Pay is not the only thing iOS 8 is all about – the update included Apple Music’s subscription as well as improvements to the iCloud Platform – iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library as well as iCloud Music Library.
Now, when your iPhone runs low on power or below 20%, the battery cell icon automatically turns red – but to make it last longer, don’t you turn on the Low Power Mode? Well, Low Power Mode was introduced in iOS 9. The update also included major improvements and features like Night Shift to comfort your eyes by applying a yellowish tone to the display as well as introducing the Public beta program – for all the users.
There are some built-in apps which users do not like – or you could say, they are audience specific – like Stocks, etc. Now you have an option to uninstall each one of the apps but earlier it was not a reality. However, with iOS 10 – which was released in 2016 – it became a reality.
Apple’s “iMessage” which is a top-class messaging service in its own way had a major chunk of upgrade with iOS 10 – adding in-app features to iMessage. Siri became available to third party apps, making it overall a better virtual assistant.
iOS 11’s major focus remained on iPads – through a series of improvements to make the iPads – a better experience. The changes included a new drag and drop support, split screen, a file browser app, Apple Pencil’s notation and handwriting support – it was released on September 19, 2017.
Released on September 17, 2018, it focused on refining the commonly used features and improving them. It added improvements to Siri and introduced Memoji, ARKit 2, Screen Time to monitor how much time you have spent using the iPhone – categorically.
iOS was originally to work on iPhones; however, it was expanded to iPads as well. In 2019, Apple decided to make another way for iPads by releasing iPadOS.
iOS 13 brought system-wide dark mode, privacy and security options, rebuilt Notes and Reminders and a new and improved Siri voice.
iOS 14 had paved the way for customisations – hinting that Apple could also bring customisation to their iPhones in future which Apple was most unlikely to. iOS 14 is known to bring home screen widgets, smart stacks, a list of all the installed apps placed in App Library, PiP mode as well as built-in language translation for 11 languages. Other than that, it revamped incoming FaceTime and phone calls screen to show up on only one portion of screen and let users focus on other work meanwhile.
iOS 15, which was released in 2021, included major revamp and improvements in especially the FaceTime calls. It included – SharePlay which would allow sharing screens, Spatial Audio, Enhanced Mic Modes, Portrait Mode to blur your background during FaceTime calls, Cross-Platform support to allow the person on the other line join the meeting through any platform. Other features included Live Text in Photos, improved Maps app, redesigned Maps, etc.
iOS 16 will remain a major iOS update in the Apple Calendar – as the update brought a feature which the company was most unlikely to do – ability to personalise lock screen. It was announced at WWDC 2022 in June – and the update brings many features ranging from enhanced personalisation options to recalling sent messages in iMessage.
On top of that, removing background is now as easy as ABC – users simply need to long tap on a picture to extract the subject from it and drop or paste it anywhere. Other than that, the iOS 16 update includes several security and privacy features.