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iPhone OS (iOS) Overview + Versions 1 and 2



iOS, previously referred to as iPhone OS, is the mobile operating system designed by Apple for exclusive use on the iPhone, as well as the iPad, iPod Touch, and more recently, Apple TV devices. Currently in a beta release of iOS 6.0, iOS differs from the various Android releases in a handful of ways, not least of which is the relative visual consistency of the user interface across versions. Moreover, whereas Android functions as an open source product, iOS remains resolutely closed-sourced, with some (relatively limited) open-source application development components.

All released versions of iOS contain a base set of featured abilities, though the functionality of most of these features has improved with each released update. Beginning with the introductory release of the iPhone OS, the following primary functions have been consistently available (the applications’ shorthand appears in parenthesis following its described functions): telephone capabilities (“Phone”), an e-mail client (“Mail”), a web browser (“Safari”), a music player (“Music,” or “iPod” in earlier models), and a video player (“Videos”).

Furthermore, all versions of iOS contain specific secondary functions: text messaging (“Messages”), a calendar app (“Calendar”), streaming content from YouTube (“YouTube”), the ability to view both photos and video (“Photos”), a camera (“Camera”), access to Yahoo! Weather and Finance (“Weather” and “Stocks”), a basic note taking app (“Notes”), maps sourced from Google in earlier versions and Apple in the latest edition (“Maps”), an address book (“Contacts”), a multi-purpose clock/alarm/timer (“Clock”), and a simple calculator (“Calculator”).

The introduction of the App Store in iPhone OS 2 allowed for the development and download of third-party applications, which significantly opened up the “world” of the iPhone (and related Apple mobile-enabled devices) beyond solely Apple-developed functions. iPhone OS 2 also introduced GPS assistance capability to Maps and a scientific calculator to Calculator.


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