What is iOS? If you’ve used an iPhone or iPad, you’ve used Apple’s mobile operating system, but you might not know what iOS stands for or what it is.
We’re here to answer any questions you have. Let’s look at what iOS stands for, what the latest version of iOS is, and everything else you need to know about the operating system.
What Is iOS?
iOS is Apple’s operating system for mobile devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch. It was also the operating system for the iPad until 2019, which we’ll talk about in a moment.
In case you don’t know, an operating system (OS) is a type of software that is essential to how a computer works because it controls everything about it. It gives the device’s hardware and software a place to talk to each other and manages all the different tasks that run on your computer.
Most likely, you use Windows, macOS, or Linux as the operating system on your desktop computer. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are the most popular operating systems for mobile devices.
What does it stand for?
It takes a little more time to explain what iOS really means. When the iPhone came out in 2007, the name of its operating system was “iPhone OS.” Even though it had a different name, iPhone OS was also on the iPod Touch, which came out later in 2007.
In 2010, Apple released the iPad, which used the same operating system (OS). Later that year, when the fourth version of the mobile OS came out, Apple changed the name of the operating system to “iOS” because it was no longer just used on the iPhone.
You might also be interested in where the I logo came from. Since the iMac came out in 1998, Apple has used this in all of its products.
Steve Jobs said at the time that the iMac combines the excitement of the internet with the ease of use of the Macintosh. Apple said more about this by showing on a slide that the I prefix can also mean individual, instruct, inform, and inspire.
What’s up with iPadOS?
Since 2010, iOS has been on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. But as time went on, Apple made some features for the iPad that took advantage of the bigger screen. These included a dock for apps on the home screen, the ability to drag and drop apps, and a mode that lets you see two apps at once.
So, when iOS 13 came out in 2019, the company changed the name of the operating system for tablets from iOS to iPadOS. iPadOS is mostly the same as iOS, but it was made into a separate product so that it could have more tablet-specific features. Apple also began version 13 of iPadOS to match the version of iOS.
Check out our overview of iPadOS to find out how to use it.
People still call Apple’s phones and tablets “iOS devices,” so when you see this, you can think of both the iPhone and the iPad. If you know how to use one OS, you’ll know how to use the other OS with the exception of a few unique features.
What is the most recent version of iOS?
At the time of this writing, iOS 15 is the most recent version of iOS that people can buy. iOS 15.3.1 came out on February 10, 2022, to be more exact. There are also beta versions of newer Apple software if you want to try out the latest updates before they are finished.
If you haven’t heard about the new version yet, check out what’s new in iOS 15 to learn about some of the best new features.
When Do New iOS Versions Come Out?
In most years, Apple announces the new version of iOS at WWDC in June. Because this is for developers, the only versions you can test at the moment are beta versions.
Apple usually releases the newest version of iOS in the fall, right after its annual iPhone event, which is usually held in the second week of September. Once the iOS update is available, anyone with a device that can run it can get it for free.
Because of this, iOS 16 is likely to come out in September 2022.
Apple also makes small changes to iOS throughout the year. These are called “point releases” because they change the version number by adding a decimal point (such as iOS 15.3). Most of the time, these updates fix bugs and fix security holes. They may also add small changes to features.
How to Update Your iPhone’s iOS
When new iOS updates are ready, your iPhone will remind you to download them. You can also go to Settings > General > Software Update at any time to check for updates on your own. This page will tell you what version of iOS you have installed if you already have the latest update.
Check out our guide on how to update your iPhone for more information. Installing the latest updates on your iPhone is a good idea if you want to keep it safe. If not, security risks could be able to get into your device.
What About iOS Versions That Are Older?
Apple makes iOS releases stand out by adding one more number. The OS is more recent if the number is higher.
When Apple released a major new version of iOS in the past, it stopped supporting older versions. With the change from iOS 14 to iOS 15, this is no longer the case. When iOS 15 came out, Apple kept putting out updates for iOS 14 and made it optional to switch to iOS 15. The company also made security updates for iOS 12 devices that couldn’t be updated to the most recent version.
Even though it’s great that Apple keeps supporting older devices with the latest iOS releases and even updates for older versions for a while, the company will have to stop doing this at some point. Scroll to the bottom of Apple’s iOS information page to see what devices work with the latest version.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are the oldest devices on the list for iOS 15. They came out in 2015. All devices that could run iOS 13 could also run iOS 14, and the same was true for iOS 14 to iOS 15. This gives us a good idea of how long an iPhone usually lasts.
If your old phone is stuck on iOS 12 or an earlier version, you should get a new one as soon as you can. Apple won’t keep updating old versions forever, so if you want to keep your mobile life safe, you should switch to a new device.
Using iOS to its fullest
Now you know what iOS is when Apple releases new versions, and how to make sure you have the latest version. Like many Apple products, iOS is all about simplicity, so you don’t usually have to think too much about which version you’re using.
If you have never used an Apple phone before, you should take the time to learn how to use iOS. When you learn how to use the Shortcuts app, it will change the way you use your device.