Evolution of iOS

Apple made millions of iPhone and iPad users and an ever-growing developer community in the world with 13 innovative updates over the years. Updates which have constantly level the bar of excellence on a year over year basis.

On an annual basis, Apple is giving the world reasons, particularly the app entrepreneurs, why they should choose a reliable iPhone app development company to start their business app journey in. Reasons motivated by the creativity they continue to introduce, bundled inside their yearly updates.

These updates are not only something that developers and entrepreneurs of the iPhone app are waiting for, but they are also something that Google is waiting to be inspired by.

And now, just around the corner, with the official iOS 14 update, the waiting eyes have turned to Apple again.

Talking about these innovative updates, let’s take a look at all the changes that iOS version history has seen over time, starting from the time they weren’t even called ‘iOS versions.’

Apple iOS Evolution: iOS History from Version 1.0 through 14.0

iPhone OS 1 

Apple’s mobile operating system update, released in 2007, wasn’t even called iOS back then. It was the FIRST iPhone OS – iPhone OS. The exact stage where iOS begins its comprehensive history. 

The innovation that the version brought is something that is very difficult to describe to today’s iPhone users who have grown used to the glow of today’s iPhone and have no recollection of when it all started.

It was the time when apps such as Visual Voicemail, Multi-Touch Screen, and iTunes Integration were seen as groundbreaking progress. A collection of advances Apple brought about in iPhone OS 1.

Now although the iOS 1 was a major breakthrough in the history of the iOS version, there was a lack of elements that would become an inherent part of the operating system in some year – photos, calendar, notes, camera, mail, third-party app support, etc. One that we’d come across as we continue to explore Apple’s iOS evolution.

iPhone OS 2

Released in 2008, a year after the iPhone became a major hit in the world, Apple released iPhone OS 2.0 to synchronize with the launch of its iPhone 3 G, marking the step in Apple’s iOS evolution.

The biggest feature introduced with iPhone OS 2 was the Apple App Store that came in with support for some 500 third-party and native applications.

The iOS SDK was next in line with the developments which came with iPhone OS 2. It was with the second edition of the OS that Apple offered a kit to help create iOS applications for developers.

Finally, along with a few updates to its current offering, iPhone OS 2 started the trend of introducing a range of features that were present on other platforms – one of which gave Microsoft Exchange full support for calendars, contacts and push emails. For emails with iOS 2, Apple also introduced contact search and multiple collections.

iPhone OS 3

iPhone OS 3 release aligned with iPhone 3GS launch.

It came with a slew of changes that would define iOS for Apple through the years to come. The improvements included a new copy-paste feature, spotlight search, MMS support in Messages app and the ability to record videos via Camera application along with push notification functionality – which was first introduced on the market.

Another notable feature of the version was its support for iPad, which introduced its first iteration in 2010 – the same time that iPhone OS 3.2 was released.

iPhone OS 3.2 set a new UI paradigm for a larger screen when skeuomorphism was introduced in the world of Apple. In addition, new app designs were introduced to incorporate the large real estate now present in Apple.

iOS 4

The iOS that is up and active in the Apple ecosystem today is what saw its foundations with iOS 4 in 2010. This was the stage where Apple’s iOS began to completely develop.

It was in iOS 4 that Apple turned the focus to giving its users the power of multi-tasking. Apps such as iBooks, FaceTime, Personal Hotspot, AirPrint, and AirPlay, which sees themselves as a popular part of Apple’s apps today, launched with iOS 4 back in 2010.

Apple also removed support for a smartphone for the first time with iOS 4, for iOS 4 was not compatible with the 1st generation iPod touch and the original iPhone.

iOS 5

Apple responded with iOS 5 in 2011, to the rising trend of cloud computing and wirelessness.

It was the first time in the Apple world that iCloud was launched along with the ability to activate iPhone wirelessly and also the feature of synchronizing with iTunes via Wi-Fi. Two other primary Apple features in front of Notification Center and iMessage were introduced with iOS 5.

The one groundbreaking feature of iOS 5 was to replace Voice Control with Siri, a virtual assistant. At a beta stage, the assistant, who came to grow in the same popularity pool as that of iPhones, gave answers to user questions in a natural language both on the web and on the OS.

iOS 6

Released at the 2012 Apple Developer Conference, the latest iteration of the OS came with a range of updates, along with the revamping of one big feature on the platform – Maps.

It was in iOS 6 that Apple removed support for Google Maps – a feature it’s been using since early 2007. A new updated Maps was released with iOS 6 featuring turn-by-turn navigation, integration with Siri, and 3D Flyover mode.

Siri who was introduced to iOS 5 at a Beta stage now saw an upgrade to iOS 6. Users could now obtain answers to schedules, sports scores etc. through the version. In addition, users could now use Yelp, Twitter and Facebook directly (which was now integrated into Apple devices).

Next in the list of add-ons for iOS 6 was Passbook. In the mobile payment sector, while still a little immature, the app was seen collecting payment types, coupons, tickets, boarding passes, and rewards cards and everything else with a barcode in one place.

There have been a number of other enhancements we’ve seen with iOS 6, such as read list enhancements, iCloud tabs, FaceTime running over cellular and much better integration of Apple ID, etc.

iOS 7

Released in 2013, iOS 7 was the result of Jony I ve ‘s attempts to take the place of Scott Forstall, who broke ties with Apple after the criticism Apple Maps got in the last update.

It was the first time in Apple‘s history that Flat Design replaced skeuomorphism, which was termed an overly simplistic UI design based on the idea of layering.

In addition to the new design, a series of new features have been added, while the existing Apple feature set has brought several enhancements around.

To begin with, a new Control Center was introduced with a swipe up from the bottom of the device enabling easy access to many features such as Wi-Fi, Do Not Disturb, Bluetooth, Sliders for brightness and volume etc.

Apple also introduced the AirDrop feature, in addition to the Control Center, for the first time in iOS 7. It also allowed users to share files and media with those around them, using iOS.

With the launch of iOS 7, the days of App Store opening to click on “update all” to update the apps were long gone. Users now have the right to choose Auto-Update, without being reminded of upgrading an application.

The last prominent introduction of iOS 7 version was the Touch ID which now allows users to unlock devices using their thumbprint only.

As regards enhancements, the multi-tasking capability of iOS 7 has seen a massive improvement in both implementation and interface. By double-clicking on the home button, users have now seen full-page previews of their active apps, while closing them was equally easy.

iOS 8

While iOS 7 brought about a massive number of visual changes to the Apple platform, iOS 8 released in 2014 was a refining of designs with a particular focus on expanding the feature set and improving workflows.

The one remarkable feature of iOS 8 was the interactivity now seen between iPhone / iPad computers and Mac computers.

Users may now transfer information seamlessly between desktops and mobile devices. AirDrop, too, allowed users to wirelessly transfer files between device types.

Users may also now send messages and take calls from their Mac desktops when once restricted to mobile devices only.

In iOS 8, Apple first introduced in the Notification Center support for third-party widgets that would provide users with real-time details, stock information contextual, weather updates, etc.

Besides these, in addition to the family sharing functionalities, iOS 8 was the first time that Apple introduced the concept of HomeKit and HealthKit on the market.

HealthKit: Users could now store in one place all their health data coming in from fitness trackers and third parties.

HomeKit: Thanks to partnerships that Apple has now expanded with many home automation devices, the app rendered iPhones the remote that controlled the entire building.

Family Sharing: The feature allowed songs, TV shows, games, etc. to be exchanged between six separate accounts linked to the same credit card.

Siri also faced many updates such as voice command activation and the possibility of making purchases of iTunes via Siri app, etc. All the updates took Siri closer to what Apple had seen in their Virtual Assistant.

iOS 9

Released in 2015, iOS 9 was driven by public demand to strengthen iOS’s technical foundation as compared to working on the design and feature side of it all.

And Apple did just that with iOS 9.

While a few features such as Night Shift were added and apps such as Notes app and Maps app were updated, and Passbook became ‘Wallet,’ the version focused primarily on strengthening the OS for the future.

In the line of responsiveness, stability, speed, and performance a major round of improvements has been made. Several iOS 9 features, such as Low Power Mode, have been launched to ensure the performance quality remains intact for users even in low battery conditions.

iOS 10

Customization and interoperability were key features of iOS 10 released in 2016.

Applications have now been given the ability to interact with each other, allowing an app to use some other application’s features without even starting the second app. Siri has now also become available for third-party use of the app, while new apps are now being built into the iMessages. It was during this time that similarities between iOS 10 and Android N were being made.

Users now had new ways to customize their entire experience, from deleting built-in apps to adding new effects and animations to messages – known as emojis.

Maps have also got a redesigned interface. The Home app now managed the accessories enabled by the HomeKit while Photos was introduced with an algorithmic search and media categorization known as ‘Memories.’

iOS 11

Apple announced iOS 11 release at WWDC in 2017.

It was the first time that ‘Files’ was launched – the app that became iPad users go-to the Dropbox, iCloud Drive and Box application for searching, organizing, and browsing files on their devices.

A new dock feature was also introduced in the devices of the users, which now allowed users to instantly open and switch applications with one swipe.

There was a new drag-and-drop function that allowed users to move photos, files, and text from application to application. The Notes app also had a new feature that enabled users to search for handwriting and enabled them to scan and mark documents.

A new prominent inclusion in the iOS 11 version was that of ARKit – a prominent part of Apple’s iOS evolution. It enabled developers to bring AR‘s power to millions of the world-wide-active iOS devices.

As for online payment, Apple Pay has been incorporated into Notifications, making it easy for users to transfer money via notifications to their friends. Apple has also introduced an Apple Pay Cash Card to enable users to shop online and within the application, as well as facilitating the transfer of money to their personal bank accounts.

In addition, a number of changes have been implemented such as redesigning the App Store, Siri having a new voice, updating the Maps and Control Center with a new set of features, etc.

The feature set that iOS 11 brought along gave new stances to the mobility world to make a comparison between iOS 11 and Android O, one where iOS stood ahead of Android several points.

iOS 12

The iOS 12 feature set released in 2018 had the intention of making devices going back as far back as 2013 much faster and more responsive.

A lot had happened in iOS 12 on the AR line. Users were working around AR compatible hardware for sharing experiences, adding functionalities for object detection and image tracking to make apps more dynamic. Pixar was looped in to design a new file format for AR applications known as usdz – which would allow AR to be experienced via any iOS app.

Besides these, the now-famous Memoji characters were introduced for the first time to iPhone X users. Of fact, as parallels were made between iOS 12 and Android P, Memoji was the feature that held the weightage on iOS 12. Group FaceTime was accessible to up to 32 users at once via audio or video.

And keeping the focus on Digital Health intact, Apple introduced Screen Time-a feature that would show users how much time they spend interacting with applications on their devices.

iOS 13

The iOS 13 feature set, announced at WWDC 2019, is still on an elongation mode.

Users, as well as developers, are getting news about likely features that would make their appearance this fall, every day that passes.

But there are two of iOS 13 ‘s biggest news attached that is very concrete-A. iPad will have its own operating system-iPadOS and B. The iTunes store is not operational any more.

In addition to these two notable changes, there’s another set of enhancements and new feature additions that launches iOS 13 with. One that places them squarely in front of Android Q in the iOS 13 vs Android Q debate.

Some of the new features put in iOS 13 include –

  • Dark Mode
  • Quick device unlock through Face ID
  • Sign In with Apple in users’ account systems
  • New Portrait Lighting
  • Improved Siri voice
  • Look Around functionality in Map

iOS 14

A new App Library view is added to iOS 14 to organize all your apps. Apps are organized automatically in the App Library, and you don’t have to keep all the icons on your actual home screen view. There is also a new view of the list and functionality for sorting usage-based programs, and more.

New widgets come in a variety of sizes and are more data-rich than ever. They can be accessed through Today View, but can also be dragged from Today View and onto the home screen. Apps automatically push out of the way to make space for the widgets. Via “Widget Gallery,” you access these widgets, with several different sizing options.

The iOS 14 also offers image support, works very similar to the iPad experience. Siri has a new interface with no overtaking of the entire screen.

A new iOS 14 translate app is designed for conversations and works offline. All you need to do is tap the microphone icon and the app will translate to the language you’ve chosen. At launch, 11 languages will be supported.

In addition, iOS 14 adds a new App Clip feature to quickly access apps without downloading the full version from the App Store.

Start a single-tap app, pay and log in with Apple Pay and sign in with Apple.

Apple is adding new Memoji accessories (including a new Memoji face mask) for iMessage, as well as pinned messages. Additionally new features for iMessage group: in-line replies, mentions.

iOS 14 compatible Devices

Apple says iOS 14 is capable of running on the iPhone 6s and later, exactly the same as iOS 13. Which means iOS 14 also supports every iPhone supported by iOS 13. Here’s the list:

  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPod touch (7th generation)

While the real features of iOS 14 will be unveiled only when we see its releases, one thing is assured – the degree of innovation will remain intact. Just like the standard Apple has maintained all over the iOS evolution 1-14 on an annual basis.