What is iOS: A Beginner’s Guide to Apple’s iPhone Operating System

Well, Apple, the iPhone, and iOS don’t need an introduction. However, several things about Apple’s mobile operating system are unknown to the ears of even “Apple Geeks.”

For instance, when iOS was introduced on January 9, 2007, and launched along with the first iPhone on June 29, it didn’t have any particular name. While launching, the Apple team simply called it a mobile version of Mac OS-X, Apple’s desktop OS.

This is the reason why it was called iPhone OS for the first few years. And with the 4th version of the OS (iOS 4), it gained the name iOS.

In the last 15 years, Apple has released 15 main versionsand given over 100 updates to its iPhone operating system. In these years, many nerds like us have developed an immense love for Apple and its various products and services.

If you are one of us (particularly me), this article will be helpful in learning the basics, lesser-known facts, and several other important things.

Introduction to iOS: What Is iOS?

iOS is the operating system that powers Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad in the past (as in 2019, with the launch of iOS 13, Apple also launched a standalone for the iPad named iPadOS).

It is optimized for touch screen devices and provides an experience that is both intuitive and integrated with other Apple services like iCloud and Apple Music.

Essentially, Apple’s iOS is a piece of software that controls all aspects of your device, including the look, feel, settings, and hardware. The system structure divided into four layers.

The core layer, the core service layer, the media layer, and the Kokua touch layer. The architecture of iOS is layered. It includes an intermediary layer between the applications and the hardware, preventing them from communicating directly.

The lower layers of the iOS provide basic services, while the upper layers provide the user interface and sophisticated graphics. The system takes up about 240 megabytes of memory space. It supports Objective-C, C, C++, and Swift programming languages. It is based on the Macintosh OS X.

Perhaps, this can be a lot of technical info about the iOS that many readers don’t like to be fed, I bet. So, let me keep it short, sweet, and loaded with useful information.

What Does “i” Stand for in Apple Products?

You might be wondering why most Apple products have “i.” Where does it come from?

Well, Apple has carried on the legacy of this brand since 1998, when the iMac was introduced to the world.

It is said that the “i” stands for the internet, individual, instruct, inform, and inspire, which I think is kind of cool.

What Does iOS Stand for?

iOS is an acronym that stands for:

  • i – iPhone
  • O – Operating
  • S – System

How Apple Revolutionized the Smartphone World with iPhone and iOS

iOS and the iPhone were introduced in 2007 when smartphones were in their infancy. The iPhone has become the most loved smartphone across the globe. In that era, smartphones were mostly used by the tech geeks the corporate world, but the iPhone attracted all types of users.

In a nutshell, the iPhone was the first device to truly fulfill the potential of the smartphone. It was the first device that could be used for both business and pleasure, and it was the preferable device to truly be in the hands of the public.

The popularity of the iPhone has led many other smartphone manufacturers to come up with innovative ideas and gadgets. However, devices still remain the first priority for smartphone users.

It is not hard to see how the iPhone changed the world, as we see how people use their smartphones today and how other smartphone manufacturers follow the path created by Apple.

iOS vs Android OS: Know the Difference!

An operating system from Apple, while Android is from Google. iOS and Android both have their strengths and weaknesses. Some people prefer one over the other, while others has love for both in their hearts. Let’s see how they differ.

  • Android is an open operating system, and iOS is a closed operating system.
  • Users have very few system permissions, whereas, in Android, users can easily customize their phones as per their liking.
  • Android software is available for many manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, and others, which may cause some quality issues in lower-cost phones. However, iOS is strictly and exclusively available for Apple products. It is controlled by Apple, and there is no quality issue due to the limited number of models.
  • Android applications can be downloaded from Google Play, whereas applications can be found in the Apple App Store.
  • Apple iOS has better integration with other devices than Google Android.
  • The operating speed of devices remains constant over time. In contrast, Android device performance may deteriorate over time.
  • iOS has a polished interface, is well integrated with iCloud, and is relatively secure. Android is less polished but offers more customization and a wider variety of device types. Android is also more open to third-party apps.

The History of iOS

Well, history seems boring to many people (I am not one of those people), but it won’t be boring to know the history of things you love.

Instead, it would be exhilarating to know what things were not possible in the past versions that are just must-haves today. So, let’s dive in.

The history of iOS begins in 2007 when the first iPhone was released.

The History of iOS by STA Account

iPhone OS 1 (2007): The first version was named iPhone OS and was based on OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system.

iPhone OS 2 (2008): The second version brought many noteworthy changes. It came with the App Store, which had third-party apps developed by developers. The geotag in photos taken by a camera was introduced.

iPhone OS 3 (2009): The third generation brought a number of bug fixes and improvements, as well as new features such as support for in-app purchases, MMS in Messages, and added support for copy, cutting, and pasting photos and texts.

iOS 4 (2010): This version brought a new name, iOS, and many significant changes. Apple added support for multitasking, wallpaper on the home screen, the creation of music playlists, and some features for the camera.

iOS 5 (2011): With iOS 5, Apple introduced iCloud, a notification center, and iMessage. It also got rid of the need for iTunes when setting up a new iOS device or installing new updates.

iOS 6 (2012): The sixth generation of iOS brought Siri as an assistant, Apple Maps, FaceTime calls on cellular networks and DND.

iOS 7 (2013): Apple redesigned the iOS UI completely and added Touch ID support for the iPhone 5S. Other noteworthy features include: Control Center, AirDrop, Find My iPhone activation lock, blocking calls and messages, and a search bar in Safari.

iOS 8 (2014): Users saw essential features in the camera and photo apps. Photos can be searched by location, date, or name of the album. Third-party filters to edit photos were introduced, and time-lapse photography was added. And yes, now Siri can make purchases from the iTunes Store.

iOS 9 (2015): The ninth version improved the overall security of the operating system, enabled Siri to search for particular photos, and improved navigation. Apple Maps came with public transit and directions. iPad-only features include: Picture-in-Picture video, Split View, and Slide Over.

iOS 10: (2016): iOS 10 came with functions such as hiding home screen icons of system apps, new sounds for the keyboard and locking device, redesigned Maps, face recognition in Photos, and more power to Siri and iMessages.

iOS 11 (2017): Apple redesigned the App Store and Control Center, added a profile option in Apple Music, new functions in Photos, and several accessibility features. And yes, the iPhone celebrated their 10th anniversary.

iOS 12 (2018): This version brought important changes to the Setting App. Screen Time, Bed Time, Battery Statistics, and new wallpapers have all been added. The app notification has been revamped as well.

iOS 13 (2019): iOS 13 is believed to be one of the major updates. Dark Mode, Apple Arcade, new 3D Maps, lyrics syncing in Apple Music, and improved performances were noted in this version. The iPad got its own OS, iPadOS.

iOS 14 (2020): iOS 14 brought new memojis, all-new widgets, an app library, and the most-awaited call notification banner at the top (users can now swipe up the call notification). users also saw changes in Safari, Weather, and Accessibility. Another major change was the App Clip.

iOS 15 (2021): This came with iCloud+ (additional storage, Hide My Email, Private Relay), an improved Maps app, Group FaceTime calls, new Memojis, Live Text, and more privacy features. 

9 Interesting Facts About iOS

There are many facts about iOS that are unknown to many users. In order to make things interesting after reading the long history, I will present to you some interesting facts about iOS.

  1. When launched, iOS was originally called “iPhone OS,” but it was renamed to “iOS” in 2010 to make it sound more like an abbreviation and less like a word with no meaning.
  2. iOS is the first mobile operating system to have an App Store where users can download applications and games.
  3. Initially, Apple had a plan to keep the App Store only to offer company apps. However, after backlash from the developer community, it allowed third-party apps and it had 500 apps when it launched.
  4. The first app developed for iOS on the Apple App Store was “Remote.”
  5. As of March 2022, Apple has sold nearly 2.2 billion iOS devices, making iOS the most popular mobile operating system.
  6. The Apple App Store has 2 million apps available for download.
  7. All of these apps combined have been downloaded over 180 billion times (as of a report from 2017 ) by users across the globe!
  8. With iOS, Apple introduced in-app purchases in the mobile operating system environment for the system.
  9. The most secure smartphone OS that has been created. It has security features that no other mobile OS has.

Why Should You Use iOS Devices?

It looks like I don’t need to say anything else to get people to use iOS devices (iPhones) since I’ve already given a few reasons in the sections above.

Still, these are some more reasons to convince those who are still on the fence about using an device.

Easy to Use and User-Friendly

Devices have a lot of built-in features that make them easier and more efficient to use. Since Apple focuses on making things simple, you will find iPhones user-friendly.

Apple Ecosystem

Apple has a very tight ecosystem. When you purchase an Apple product, you are getting the best user experience. Plus, you can enrich your experience by connecting various Apple products and services, such as iCloud, Apple Music, Health, and many others. They also have a better app ecosystem with more quality games and apps than Android devices.

Quality Always Comes First

Although devices are generally more expensive than Android devices, they offer better quality and performance. Thus, the increased price undoubtedly justifies itself.

iOS Is the Most Secure OS

iOS is the most secure mobile operating system. It offers a lot of security features, which make it difficult for hackers to access your private data. No one can log in to your Apple ID as it is protected by two-factor authentication (2FA).

Apple also keeps an eye on apps that are available on the App Store to keep them safe for users. There are strict guidelines for developers.

Privacy Is Fundamental

In 2019, while launching iOS 13, Apple CEO Tim Cook said privacy is fundamental at Apple, and it is 100% true. If you are concerned about your privacy, iOS is the best choice for you. Apple doesn’t sell any data to advertisers or marketers.

Recently, Apple made it mandatory for third-party apps on the App Store to disclose what data they collect. Plus, users have the autonomy to choose if they want to allow the app to track activities. You can access this in Settings => Privacy => Tracking.

Suitable for Business and Entertainment

Apple devices can be used for business, and they are also great for entertainment purposes.

They have a wide range of features and functions that can be used in the workplace to create presentations, take notes, and even record meetings. They also provide access to Apple’s productivity app suite, including Pages and Keynote.

When it comes to entertainment, you have hundreds of games and apps, and of course, podcasts and Apple Music.


A mobile operating system is the backbone of any smartphone and is responsible for managing the hardware, installing applications, and providing a user experience.

With the arrival of the iPhone powered by iOS, the meaning of the smartphone completely changed in 2007.

Since then, Apple has never laid us down, and the Cupertino tech giant will continue to do what it does best.

Stay tuned to our site for the latest posts and updates related to iOS.

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