iOS is an operating system (or ‘OS’) developed and owned by Apple. It was originally known as ‘iPhone OS’ and was developed for use on Apple’s iPhone, though it is now used by other Apple products such as the iPad.
Main Key Features
Apple iOS was designed for the first iPhone and is used exclusively in Apple products such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. By designing both iOS and the hardware it runs on, Apple maintain a consistent, high standard user experience across devices. Since the first iPhone was released in 2007, four further iPhones have been released by Apple: the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S. All iPhones have a consistent design, featuring a 3.5” touchscreen and few hardware buttons.
Each generation of iPhone has brought new features and improvements over earlier models. The second iPhone, the iPhone 3G, was very similar to its predecessor but added 3G connectivity and assisted GPS. The third iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, featured wider improvements, including an improved camera with video recording capabilities and a faster processor.
The iPhone 4 features a more powerful processor, increased RAM, a higher resolution rear-facing camera and a front facing camera for ‘FaceTime’ video calls. The iPhone 4 also features Apple’s high resolution ‘Retina Display’. Finally, Apple´s most recent iPhone, the iPhone 4S, features the same external design as its predecessor but with improvements to internal hardware including a dual-core processor, much improved camera and the addition of the popular ´Siri´ virtual assistant.
Apple iOS users can download apps from Apple’s ‘App Store’, which features over 650,000 apps to choose from. This is currently the largest number of apps available on any smartphone operating system. The App Store has a mixture of both free and paid apps for download, with over a third of apps available free of charge.
The App Store contains applications for a wide range of purposes, from functional or productivity related applications to entertainment apps. The store is particularly noted for having one of the best range of mobile games available. Applications made by third parties and submitted to the App Store must be approved by Apple, who test the functionality and content, before they are available. Not all applications in the app store are available for all iOS devices. For example, a number of apps optimised for the larger screen of the iPad tablets are not available for iPhones.
Apple have consistently updated iOS with new features, improvements and bug fixes since its initial release. A major update to Apple iOS is released alongside each new generation of iPhone and various minor updates are released in the intervening time. The most recent version of Apple´s iOS is iOS 5.0, released alongside the Apple iPhone 4S. iOS 5 brings a number of new features and improvement to the iPhone, including a convenient new notifications bar, the BlackBerry Messenger rivalling iMessages and cloud based services through iCloud, among other features.
The previous version, iOS 4.x, was released alongside the iPhone 4 in June 2010 and brought several noteworthy additions to iOS, including ‘FaceTime’ (Apple’s video calling service), Apple’s social gaming network ‘Game Center’, and support for multitasking third party applications.
Prior to iOS 4.x, all versions of iOS were compatible with all iPhones. This came to an end with iOS 4.x, which is not available for the original iPhone due to hardware constraints. At the time of writing the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S can all be upgraded to the latest iOS version, while the original iPhone cannot be upgraded beyond iOS 3.1.3 and the iPhone 3G cannot be upgraded beyond iOS 4.2.1.