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Definition: iOS versions


Following are the versions of Apple's mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iOS is the Mac operating system specialized for mobile devices. See iPhone versions, iPad and iPod touch.

iOS and iPadOS 15 (Fall 2021)
SharePlay allows users to watch videos while FaceTiming, and it adds screen sharing and a Grid view that shows everyone in the same-size tile. A link to friends using Windows and Android became available. Spatial audio makes individual voices sound like they come from the direction of the person talking. Content in Messages are in a Shared with You section in the app it came from. There are new Memoji, and multiple photos in Messages are displayed as a collage or stack of images.

The Focus feature in Messages signals the user's status for others. Redesigned notifications can be summarized, and Maps offers more road details. Safari has tab groups, a new tab bar design and supports extensions like desktop browsers. Driver's license and state ID can be added to Wallet. Live Text in Photos offers textual information within an image. It also enables text to be extracted from images and provides translation in seven languages. Visual Look Up identifies objects in an image and provides information about them.

iOS and iPadOS 14.7 - July 2021
MagSafe battery pack supported (magnetically attaches to phone for charging), and timers for HomePods can be set with the Home app. Weather app expanded for more countries. Credit limits can be shared on Apple Card.

iOS and iPadOS 14.5 - April 2021
Face ID works with a mask if paired with an Apple Watch. Four Siri voices were added, and apps must ask permission to track users. Apple Maps now crowdsources real-time traffic conditions, and support for AirTags, Apple's tile trackers was added. An App Library stores apps not used on a regular basis. App icons can be customized, and App Clips are mini apps that provide simple functions with being installed.

iOS and iPadOS 14 - September 2020
Phone calls, video calls and Siri are less intrusive. Privacy features are enhanced allowing users to opt out of tracking and location sharing as well as network, microphone and photo access per individual app. After copying to the clipboard, the Paste operation identifies where the data come from. Weak and compromised passwords are detected and known breaches can be identified. Safari identifies cross-site tracking.

iPadOS 14 Only - September 2020
New features and cosmetic changes in Photos, Files, Music and Maps apps. A new sidebar similar to the Mac sidebar appears in many apps. Scribble supports handwriting recognition with the Apple Pencil.

iOS 14 Only - September 2020
For the first time, users can select a variety of browsers and email programs as defaults. There is more control over group messages, and home screens can be customized with widgets for the first time. Video sessions can run picture-in-picture while using other apps, and an app library organizes applications by category instead of endless pages of icons.

iPadOS 13 - September 2019
While iPhones continue to use iOS, late model iPads run iPadOS instead, which makes the tablet work more like a laptop computer. USB and SD cards are supported, and most iOS apps still run as they did before. See iPadOS.

iOS 13 - September 2019
Dark mode and more camera/photo features were added. In Portrait Lighting, light intensity and more adjustments can be made, and a color photo can be turned into monochrome. Effects can also be used in videos. An Apple sign-in adds a uniform way to log into websites and apps, and Maps added 3D views and panning. A new voice and shortcuts were added to Siri, and Siri can recognize family members on Apple's HomePod. Music can be shared on two sets of AirPods. QuickPath typing adds keyboard swiping, and Dolby Atmos was added for devices 2018 and later.

iOS 12 - September 2018
FaceTime updated to support groups rather than one-on-one. Animojis beefed up with "Memojis," which let users create avatars of themselves. Screen Time shows how much time users spend on apps and how much of the device's resources they use. Shortcuts for Siri allow custom phrases to perform pre-set actions, and augmented reality and Photos are updated. On 911 calls, precise location will be provided.

iOS 11 - September 2017
Raise to Wake option eliminates the need for the Home button, which is gone in iPhone X models. Major changes for the iPad by adding drag and drop, file management and better app switching. iOS 11 was designed to make the iPad tablet more like a laptop/desktop so it can be used as a true alternative. Apple Pencil can be used for quickly taking notes, signing documents and marking up PDFs and images. An improved keyboard combines letters, digits and symbols without needing to switch back and forth. An augmented reality (AR) software development kit allows developers to build AR into their apps. Apple Pay allows sending money to friends via the Messages app. Maps app adds airport data, and navigation interface is enhanced. For safer driving, a "do not disturb" function is available that only displays important notifications. There is a new Siri interface, and the Photos app has better image recognition for identifying people and things. The control center is also expanded.

iOS 10 - September 2016
Improvements to Apple's messaging app that include handwriting, hidden images that are revealed by swiping and more ways to express oneself. Siri becomes available to third-party developers allowing users to command apps via voice. Maps can make routing suggestions and also take reservations for apps such as OpenTable and Uber. A new Home app controls lights, doors and thermostat. Just raising the iPhone wakes it up, and 3D Touch is added to Calendar, Weather and Stocks. Contextual predictions in email bring up phone numbers and calendar dates based on the content of the message. Photos can be searched by content such as their location when taken. Two languages can be typed without switching between keyboards.

iOS 9 - September 2015
iOS 9 features faster performance and greater battery life along with Siri improvements, including context-related help and address book integration (using contacts for caller ID). Processed locally without going to the cloud, unit conversions are handled in Spotlight, and similar to Google app indexing, support for deep linking within an app was added. A News aggregator app refines its selections the more it is used, and iPads can multitask two apps in a split screen. All the keyboard keys display both lower and upper case characters for the first time, and a "Move to iOS" app copies all common files (contacts, photos, etc.) from an Android device to an iPhone.

iOS 8 - September 2014
Retaining the iOS 7 user interface, iOS 8 features Shazam integration with Siri along with HealthKit for wearable tech and HomeKit for home automation. Extensions are an internal architecture that lets apps use functions in other apps. For example, third-party keyboards can be used in compliant apps, and within a text editor, an image can be modified using the functions of a photo editor app. Handoff provides mobile-to-desktop switching, allowing documents begun in iOS to be finished in OS X Version 10.10 and vice versa (see Yosemite). User data are encrypted and cannot be revealed even by Apple without the passcode. Game developers can get closer to the hardware with the Metal graphics API.

iOS 7 - September 2013
A complete change in user interface design since the iPhone's inception. For details, see iOS 7.

iOS 6 - September 2012
Coinciding with the iPhone 5, Facetime runs on cellular and not just Wi-Fi. Along with Facebook integration, improved mail, Web browsing and Siri functionality, Apple replaced Google's Maps (see Apple Maps). The previously built-in YouTube app must be downloaded separately. Photos can be selected and shared, and a new Passbook app, later renamed "Wallet," stores coupons, tickets, etc. (see Apple Wallet). Phone calls can be answered with custom or stock messages such as "I'll call you later." See iPhone 5.

iOS 5 - October 2011
A major upgrade introduced with the iPhone 4s. iOS can be updated over the air instead of only via iTunes and a computer, and iCloud can synchronize data among all Apple devices (see iCloud). Camera enhancements, such as cropping and red-eye reduction were added, along with Twitter integration, and similar to the Android, a notification center allows users to review messages and alerts. iMessage works with other iOS 5-compliant devices (see iMessage), and location-based Reminders can, for example, alert people to pick up their prescription when nearby their pharmacy. See iPhone 4s.

iOS 4 - June 2010
Coinciding with the iPhone 4, Apple licensed the iOS brand name from Cisco, and iPhone OS was renamed iOS. Along with multitasking, Apple touted more than 100 new features. Folders were added, allowing a user to create one by dragging one app icon onto another in wiggle mode. See iPhone 4.

iPhone OS 3 - June 2009
Debuting on the iPhone 3G S, many features were added, including cut, copy and paste (glaringly missing in previous versions), a global search, multiplayer gaming, turn-by-turn navigation using a third-party app, purchasing upgrades within the app, and push notifications (apps notified even if not running) and MMS multimedia messaging. It was also available for the iPhone 3G and iPod touch.

iPhone OS 2 - July 2008
Debuting with the iPhone 3G and the App Store, iPhone OS 2 supported third-party apps. It included numerous user enhancements, including screen capture and tapping the top of the screen to scroll to the top.

iPhone OS 1 - June 2007
First version of iPhone and operating system. See iPhone.