The History of iOS, from Version 1.0 to 11.0

iOS history and details about each version

iOS 11
image credit: Apple Inc.
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iOS is the name of the operating system that runs the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It's the core software that comes loaded on all devices to allow them to run and support other apps. The iOS is to the iPhone what Windows is to PCs or Mac OS X is to Macs.

See our What is iOS? for a lot more on this innovative mobile operating system and how it works.

Below you'll find a history of each version of the iOS, when it was released, and what it added to the platform. Click the name of the iOS version, or the More link at the end of each blurb, for more in-depth information about that version.

iOS 11
image credit: Apple

Support ended: n/a
Current version: 11.0, not yet released
Initial version: 11.0, not yet released

The iOS was originally developed to run on the iPhone. Since then, it's been expanded to support the iPod touch and iPad (and versions of it even power the Apple Watch and Apple TV). In iOS 11, the emphasis shifted from the iPhone to the iPad.

Sure, iOS 11 contains lots of improvements for the iPhone, but its major focus is turning the iPad Pro series models into legitimate laptop replacements for some users.

This is done through a series of changes designed to make the iOS running on iPad a lot more like a desktop operating system. These changes include all new drag and drop support, split screen apps and multiple workspaces, a file browser app, and support for notation and handwriting with the Apple Pencil.

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • ​iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5
  • iPad 4
  • iPad 3
More »
iOS 10
image credit: Apple Inc.

Support ended:  n/a
Current version: 10.3.3, released July 19, 2017
Initial version: Released Sept. 13, 2016

The ecosystem that Apple built around the iOS has long been referred to as a "walled garden" because it's a very pleasant place to be on the inside, but it's hard to gain access to. This was reflected in the many ways Apple locked down the interface of the iOS the options it gave to apps.

Cracks began to show in the walled garden in iOS 10, and Apple put them there.

The major themes of iOS 10 were interoperability and customization. Apps could now communicate directly with each other on a device, allowing one app to use some features from another without opening the second app. Siri became available to third-party apps in new ways. There were even apps built into iMessage now.​

Beyond that, users now had new ways to customize their experiences, from (finally!) being able to delete built-in apps to new animations and effects to punctuate their text messages.

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • ​iPhone 4S
  • 5th gen. iPod touch
  • iPad 2
  • 1st gen. iPad mini
More »
Screens on an iPhone
iOS controls apps in the background. Apple, Inc.

Support ended:  n/a
Final version: 9.3.5, released Aug. 25, 2016
Initial version: Released Sept. 16, 2015

After a few years of major changes to both the interface and technical foundation of the iOS, many observers began to charge that the iOS was no longer the stable, dependable, solid performer it had once been. They suggested that Apple should focus on shoring up the foundation of the OS before adding new features.

That's just what the company did with iOS 9. While it did add some new features, this release was generally aimed at solidifying the foundation of the OS for the future.

Major improvements were delivered in speed and responsiveness, stability, and performance on older devices. iOS 9 proved to be an important refocusing that laid the groundwork for the bigger improvements delivered in iOS 10 and 11.

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • N/A
More »
iPhone 5s with iOS 8
iPhone 5s with iOS 8. Apple, Inc.

Support ended:  n/a
Final version: 8.4.1, released Aug. 13, 2015
Initial version: Released Sept. 17, 2014

More consistent and stable operation returned to the iOS in version 8.0. With the radical changes of the last two versions now in the past, Apple once again focused on delivering major new features.

Among these features was its secure, contactless payment system Apple Pay and, with the iOS 8.4 update, the Apple Music subscription service. 

There were continued improvements to the iCloud platform, too, with the addition of the Dropbox-like iClould Drive, iCloud Photo Library, and iCloud Music Library.

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • iPhone 4

  More »

iOS 7
image credit: Hoch Zwei/Contributor/Corbis News/Getty Images

Support ended:  2016
Final version: 11.0, not yet released
Initial version: Released Sept. 18, 2013

Like iOS 6, iOS 7 was met with substantial resistance upon its release. Unlike iOS 6, though, the cause of unhappiness among iOS 7 users wasn't that things didn't work. Rather, it was because things had changed.

After the firing of Scott Forstall, iOS development was overseen by Jony Ive, Apple's head of design, who had previously only worked on hardware. In this version of the iOS, Ive ushered in a major overhaul of the user interface, designed to make it more modern.

While the design was indeed more modern, its small, thin fonts were hard to read for some users and frequent animations caused motion sickness for others. The design of the current iOS is derived from the changes made in iOS 7. After Apple made improvements, and users became accustomed to the changes, complaints subsided.

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • iPhone 3GS
  • ​iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, 3rd gen. iPad, and iPad 2 couldn't use all features of iOS 7 
More »
iOS 6
image credit: Flicker user marco_1186/license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Support ended:  2015
Final version: 6.1.6, released Feb. 21, 2014
Initial version: Released Sept. 19, 2012

Controversy was one of the dominant themes of iOS 6. While this version introduced the world to Siri—which, despite being later surpassed by competitors, was a truly revolutionary technology— problems with it also led to major changes.

The driver of these problems was Apple's increasing competition with Google, whose Android smartphone platform was posing a threat to the iPhone. Google had supplied the Maps and YouTube apps pre-installed with the iPhone since 1.0. In iOS 6, that changed.

Apple introduced its own Maps app, which was badly received due to bugs, bad directions, and problems with certain features. As part of the company's efforts to solve the problems, Apple CEO Tim Cook asked the head of iOS development, Scott Forstall, to make a public apology. When he refused, Cook fired him. Forstall had been involved with the iPhone since before the first model, so this was a profound change.

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • ​None, but iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad 2 couldn't use all features of iOS 6
More »
image credit: Francis Dean/Contributor/Corbis News/Getty Images

Support ended:  2014
Final version: 5.1.1, released May 7, 2012
Initial version: Released Oct. 12, 2011

Apple responded to the growing trend of wirelessness, and cloud computing, in iOS 5, by introducing essential new features and platforms. Among those was iCloud, the ability to activate an iPhone wirelessly (previously it had required a connection to a computer), and syncing with iTunes via Wi-Fi.

More features that are now central to the iOS experience debuted here, including iMessage and Notification Center.

With iOS 5, Apple dropped support for the iPhone 3G, 1st gen. iPad, and 2nd and 3rd gen. iPod touch.

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • iPhone 3G
  • 1st gen. iPad
  • 2nd gen. iPod touch
  • 3rd gen. iPod touch
More »
iPhone 4
image credit: Ramin Talaie/Corbis Historical/Getty Images

Support ended: 2013
Final version: 4.3.5, released July 25, 2011
Initial version: Released June 22, 2010

Many aspects of the modern iOS began to take shape in iOS 4. Features that are now widely used debuted in various updates to this version, including FaceTime, multitasking, iBooks, organizing apps into folders, Personal Hotspot, AirPlay, and AirPrint.

Another important change introduced with iOS 4 was the name "iOS" itself. As noted earlier, the iOS name was unveiled for this version, replacing the previously used "iPhone OS" name.

This was also the first version of the iOS to drop support for any iOS devices. It was not compatible with the original iPhone or the 1st generation iPod touch. Some older models that were technically compatible were not able to use all features of this version.​

Key New Features​:

Dropped Support For:

  • Orignal iPhone
  • 1st Gen. iPod touch
More »

iOS 3

iPhone 3GS
image credit: Justin Sullivan/Staff/Getty Images News

Support ended: 2012
Final version: 3.2.2, released Aug. 11, 2010
Initial version: Released June 17, 2009

The release of this version of the iOS accompanied the debut of the iPhone 3GS. It added features including copy and paste, Spotlight search, MMS support in the Messages app, and the ability to record videos using the Camera app.

Also notable about this version of the iOS is that it was the first to support the iPad. The 1st generation iPad was released in 2010, and version 3.2 of the software came with it.

Key New Features​:

iOS 2

iPhone 3G
image credit: Jason Kempin/WireImage/Getty Images

Support ended: 2011​​
Final version: 2.2.1, released January 27, 2009
Initial version: Released July 11, 2008

One year after the iPhone became a bigger hit than almost anyone projected, Apple released iOS 2.0 (then called iPhone OS 2.0) to coincide with the release of the iPhone 3G.

The most profound change introduced in this version was the App Store and its support for native, third-party apps. Around 500 apps were available in the App Store at launch. Hundreds of other crucial improvements were also added.

Other important changes introduced in the 5 updates iPhone OS 2.0 included podcast support and public transit and walking directions in Maps (both in version 2.2).

Key New Features​:

iOS 1

original iPhone
image Apple Inc.

Support ended: 2010
Final version: 1.1.5, released July 15, 2008
Initial version: Released June 29, 2007

The one that started it all, which shipped pre-installed on the original iPhone.

This version of the operating system wasn't called the iOS at the time it launched. From versions 1-3, Apple referred to it as the iPhone OS. The name shifted to iOS with version 4.

It's hard to convey to modern readers who have lived with the iPhone for years how profound a breakthrough this version of the operating system was. Support for features like the multitouch screen, Visual Voicemail, and iTunes integration were significant advances.

While this initial release was a major breakthrough at the time, it lacked many of the features that would come to be closely associated with the iPhone in the future, including support for native, third-party apps. Pre-installed apps included Calendar, Photos, Camera, Notes, Safari, Mail, Phone, and iPod (which was later split into the Music and Videos apps).

Version 1.1, which was released in Sept. 2007 was the first version of the software compatible with the iPod touch.

Key New Features​: