iOS used to be called something very different…

Wondering what does the “i” in iOS stand for? It’s something many iPhone owners wonder about eventually – and it has an interesting backstory. That’s because the iPhone’s operating system wasn’t always called “iOS”. As a matter of fact, up until the iPhone 4, the iPhone’s operating system was known by two different names…

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OS X – The Operating System Of The Original iPhone

When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, not only was its hardware revolutionary, but its software – its operating system – was as well. However, that operating system didn’t actually have a name.

In marketing materials for the original iPhone, Apple just referred to its operating system as a version of OS X.

What is OS X, you may ask (if you’re not a long-term Apple user). OS X was the brand name Apple used for its Mac operating system until several years ago when it rebranded it macOS

However, while Apple said the original iPhone ran a version of OS X, it wasn’t close to anything you saw on the Mac. Though the iPhone did have a dock (and still does), the dock didn’t have the magnification effect, and the first iPhone’s operating system wasn’t capable of installing third-party apps like OS X (or macOS and iOS today). The first iPhone operating system didn’t even have a user-facing file structure like OS X had had for years.

iPhone OS – The Operating System Of The iPhone 3G

Despite its name, the iPhone 3G was actually the second version of the iPhone, released in 2008. The “3” in its name stood for 3G cellular service. But with the iPhone 3G, the second iPhone also got another rebranding. Its operating system stopped being referred to as a version of OS X and instead was branded “iPhone OS 2”.

While iPhone OS 2 had many advantages over the original iPhone’s operating system, it also had what is arguable the biggest leap forward when it comes to any iPhone software. You see, iPhone OS 2 was the first iPhone operating system to support the App Store and third-party apps.

In other words, iPhone OS 2 made the iPhone what it is today – a rich device platform ecosystem with millions of third-party apps available.

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iPhone OS 3 – The End Of An Era

In 2009, Apple introduced the third version of the iPhone – the iPhone 3GS. The “S” addition to the iPhone 3G’s name is rumored to have stood for “speed” and the “S” moniker is still used by Apple today.

The iPhone 3GS also ran iPhone OS 3. Though not as revolutionary as the iPhone OS 2 and its App Store, the iPhone OS 3 did feature some major improvements, like copy and paste across the OS – a feature so basic and critical today it’s hard to believe there was once a point you could never copy and paste on the iPhone.

iPhone OS Becomes iOS 

With the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010, Apple dropped the “iPhone OS” naming convention for its iPhones. Instead of running an OS called “iPhone OS” the iPhone 4 ran an OS called iOS, which is still the name of the iPhone’s operating system to this day.

iOS 4 on the iPhone added major new features to the iPhone, including FaceTime, iBooks, and Game Center.

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So What Does The “I” In “iOS” Stand For?

When Apple shortened the iPhone’s operating system name from iPhone OS to iOS they simply removed the “Phone” portion of the name and eliminated the space before the “OS” part of the name. Thus iOS stands for “iPhone OS”, meaning the “I” in iOS stands for “iPhone”.

The fact that iOS stand for iPhone Os is one of the probably reasons Apple rebranded the iPad’s operating system from iOS to iPadOS in 2019. The version of iOS on iPad had been diverging so much from the version of iOS on iPhone, Apple wanted to distinguish the two operating systems from themselves.

And check out Why Don’t TVs Have Center Stands Anymore? Also, check out Do iPhones Come With Chargers? And have a look at How To Get An Apple ID Without An Apple Device! And check out Is iCloud+ Worth It? My 2 Cents…

Can’t wait for iOS 16? Check out all the new iOS 16 features here!