What Is iPhone iOS?

iOS is the operating system for Apple's mobile devices

Apple's mobile operating system, iOS, runs the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices. Originally known as the iPhone OS, the name was changed to iOS with the introduction of the iPad. Since 2019, the iPad has had a separate OS, called iPadOS.

Apple iOS uses a multi-touch interface in which simple gestures operate compatible devices, such as swiping your finger across the screen to move to the next page or pinching your fingers to zoom out. There are millions of iOS apps available for download in the Apple App Store, the most popular app store of any mobile device.

Much has changed since the first release of iOS with the iPhone in 2007. 

What Is an Operating System?

In the simplest terms, an operating system is what lies between you and the physical device. The operating system interprets the commands of software applications (apps), and it gives those apps access to the hardware features of the device, such as the multi-touch screen, memory, or storage.

Mobile operating systems like iOS differ from most other operating systems because they put each app in its own protective shell, keepings other apps from tampering with them. This design makes it almost impossible for a virus to infect apps on the iOS operating system, although other forms of malware exist. The protective shell around apps also poses limitations because it keeps apps from directly communicating with one another.

Can You Multitask in iOS?

Apple added a form of limited multitasking soon after the release of the iPad. This multitasking allowed processes playing music to run in the background, for example. It also allowed fast app-switching by keeping portions of apps in memory even when they weren't in the foreground.

Apple later added features that allow some iPad models to use slide-over and split-view multitasking. Split-view multitasking splits the screen in half, allowing you to run an app on each side of the screen.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro
Apple

How Much Does an Update Cost?

Apple does not charge for updates to the operating system. Apple also gives away a suite of software products with the purchase of iOS devices, including a word processor (Pages), spreadsheet app (Numbers), and presentation software (Keynote). It also includes some basic video, music, and photo editing software. Apple apps like Safari, Mail, and Notes ship with the operating system by default. 

How Often Is iOS Updated?

Once a year, in early summer, Apple announces a major iOS update at their developer conference. Then, in the fall, Apple releases another major update, which is timed to coincide with an announcement of the most recent iPhone and iPad models. These free releases add major features to the operating system.

Apple also issues bug fix releases and security patches throughout the year.

Should I Update My Device With Each Release?

While it may sound like a bad Hollywood movie plot, there's an ongoing tug-of-war between software developers and hackers. So when your iPhone or iPad alerts you to a pending update, you should install it within a day or two.

Update your iPad or iPhone even when the release seems minor.

How to Update Your Device to the Newest Version of iOS

The easiest way to update your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch is to use the scheduling feature. When a new update is released, the device asks if you want to update it at night. Select Install Later and remember to plug in your device before going to bed. 

You can also install the update manually by going into the device's settings, selecting General, and then selecting Software Update. This menu takes you to a screen where you can download the update and install it on the device. Your device must have enough storage space to complete the update.

FAQ
  • How do you change app icons on iOS 14?

    You can't replace the default icon that comes with an app, but you can create a totally new icon using Apple's Shortcuts app. Create a new shortcut that opens the app and place it on the Home screen. Then, when you see the shortcut icon preview, select Add and choose the image you want to use.

  • How do you customize iOS 14?

    The easiest way to customize your phone is with a personalized wallpaper, which you can choose by going to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a new wallpaper. You can also customize by adding widgets: long-press the Home screen until the apps begin to shake > Add Widgets.

  • What do the orange and green dots mean on iOS 14?

    These dots are indicators that the microphone or camera is being used by an app. The orange dot means the microphone is being used, while the green dot means either the camera or the camera and the microphone are being used.

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