iOS (formerly iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. exclusively for its hardware. It is the operating system that presently powers many of the company’s mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It is the second most popular mobile operating system globally after Android.

iOS user interface

The iOS user interface is based upon direct manipulation, using multi-touch gestures. Interface control elements consist of sliders, switches, and buttons. Interaction with the OS includes gestures such as swipe, tap, pinch, and reverse pinch, all of which have specific definitions within the context of the iOS operating system and its multi-touch interface. Internal accelerometers are used by some applications to respond to shaking the device (one common result is the undo command) or rotating it in three dimensions (one common result is switching between portrait and landscape mode). Apple has been significantly praised for incorporating thorough accessibility functions into iOS, enabling users with vision and hearing disabilities to properly use its products.

iOS update release

Major versions of iOS are released annually. The current version, iOS 12, was released on September 17, 2018. It is available for all iOS devices with 64-bit processors; the iPhone 5S and later iPhone models, the iPad (2017), the iPad Air and later iPad Air models, all iPad Pro models, the iPad Mini 2 and later iPad Mini models, and the sixth-generation iPod Touch. On all recent iOS devices, iOS regularly checks on the availability of an update, and if one is available, will prompt the user to permit its automatic installation.

Accessibility

iOS offers various accessibility features to help users with vision and hearing disabilities. One major feature, VoiceOver, provides a voice reading information on the screen, including contextual buttons, icons, links, and other user interface elements, and allows the user to navigate the operating system through gestures.

Apple, state that “We see accessibility as a basic human right. Building into the core of our products supports a vision of an inclusive world where opportunity and access to information are barrier-free, empowering individuals with disabilities to achieve their goals”.

Multitasking

Multitasking for iOS was first released in June 2010 along with the release of iOS 4. Only certain devices iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPod Touch 3rd generation were able to multitask. The iPad did not get multitasking until iOS 4.2.1 in November. Currently, multitasking is supported on iPhone 3GS+, iPod Touch 3rd generation+, and all iPad models.

Implementation of multitasking in iOS has been criticized for its approach, which limits the work that applications in the background can perform to a limited function set and requires application developers to add explicit support for it.

Before iOS 4, multitasking was limited to a selection of the applications Apple included on the device. Users could, however, “jailbreak” their device in order to unofficially multitask. ¬†Starting with iOS 4, on third-generation and newer iOS devices, multitasking is supported through seven background APIs:

Hardware

The main hardware platform for iOS is the ARM architecture. iOS releases before iOS 7 can only be run on iOS devices with 32-bit ARM processors (ARMv6 and ARMv7-A architectures). In 2013, iOS 7 was released with full 64-bit support (which includes native 64-bit kernel, libraries, drivers as well as all built-in applications), after Apple announced that they were switching to 64-bit ARMv8-A processors with the introduction of the Apple A7 chip. 64-bit support was also enforced for all apps in the App Store; All new apps submitted to the App Store with a deadline of February 2015, and all app updates submitted to the App Store with a deadline of June 1, 2015. iOS 11 drops support for all iOS devices with 32-bit ARM processors as well as 32-bit applications, making iOS 64-bit only.

Siri

Siri is an intelligent personal assistant integrated into iOS. The assistant uses voice queries and a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of Internet services. The software adapts to users’ individual language usages, searches, and preferences, with continuing use. Returned results are individualized.

Originally released as an app for iOS in February 2010, it was acquired by Apple two months later, and then integrated into iPhone 4S at its release in October 2011. At that time, the separate app was also removed from the iOS App Store.

Siri supports a wide range of user commands, including performing phone actions, checking the basic information, scheduling events and reminders, handling device settings, searching the Internet, navigating areas, finding information on entertainment, and is able to engage with iOS-integrated apps.

With the release of iOS 10 in 2016, Apple opened up limited third-party access to Siri, including third-party messaging apps, as well as payments, ride-sharing, and Internet calling apps. With the release of iOS 11, Apple updated Siri’s voices for more clear, human voices, it now supports follow-up questions and language translation, and additional third-party actions.

Development

The iOS SDK (Software Development Kit) allows for the development of mobile apps on iOS.¬†While originally developing iPhone prior to its unveiling in 2007, Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs did not intend to let third-party developers build native apps for iOS, instead directing them to make web applications for the Safari web browser.

However, a backlash from developers prompted the company to reconsider, with Jobs announcing in October 2007 that Apple would have a software development kit available for developers by February 2008. The SDK was released on March 6, 2008.

Combined with Xcode, the iOS SDK helps developers write iOS apps using officially supported programming languages, including Swift and Objective-C. Other companies have also created tools that allow for the development of native iOS apps using their respective programming languages.

Security

Passcode

iOS devices can have a passcode that is used to unlock the device, make changes to system settings, and encrypt the device’s contents. Until recently, these were typically four numerical digits long. However, since unlocking the devices with a fingerprint by using Touch ID has become more widespread, six-digit passcodes are now the default on iOS with the option to switch back to four or use an alphanumeric passcode.

Touch ID

Touch ID is a fingerprint scanner that is embedded in the home button and can be used to unlock the device, make purchases, and log into applications among other functions. When used, Touch ID only temporarily stores the fingerprint data in encrypted memory in the Secure Enclave, as described above. There is no way for the device’s main processor or any other part of the system to access the raw fingerprint data that is obtained from the Touch ID sensor.

Network Security

iOS supports TLS with both low- and high-level APIs for developers. By default, the App Transport Security framework requires that servers use at least TLS 1.2. However, developers are free to override this framework and utilize their own methods of communicating over networks. When Wi-Fi is enabled, iOS uses a randomized MAC address so that devices cannot be tracked by anyone sniffing wireless traffic.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is an option in iOS to ensure that even if an unauthorized person knows an Apple ID and password combination, they cannot gain access to the account. It works by requiring not only the Apple ID and password but also a verification code that is sent to a device that is already known to be trusted. If an unauthorized user attempts to sign in using another user’s Apple ID, the owner of the Apple ID receives a notification that allows them to deny access to the unrecognized device.

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