iOS is at the heart of the iPhone experience. It’s the operating system on which everything else sits, while also delivering plenty of features and dedicated apps built by Apple itself. If you’ve ever wondered about when versions came out, how you can check the one you’re currently using, or how to update to the latest iteration, we have the answers. Here’s our whistlestop tour of iOS.
iOS version history
In 2007, iOS was introduced with the release of the first iPhone. At the initial unveiling by Steve Jobs, the device was not running iOS 1, as previously stated by Apple. Instead, it was reported to be utilizing OS X, the operating system used for Mac computers. The name was later changed to iPhone OS and was eventually shortened to iOS in 2010 with the release of its fourth generation, becoming known as the legendary name it is today.
Important events can be found at various points in the history of iOS. The initial noteworthy event was the launch of the App Store in iPhone OS 2 in 2008. The introduction of the iPad in iOS 4 also marked its integration into the operating system alongside the iPhone.
In 2011, the iPhone 4S was launched, along with the release of iOS 5. This marked the introduction of Siri as an integrated feature in the operating system. Unfortunately, this was the final iteration of the software to come out during the lifetime of Apple’s CEO and Founder, Steve Jobs.
In 2017, iOS 11 brought major changes with the introduction of a touch and gesture interface, making the iPhone X the first model without a Home button.
In 2019, iOS 13 brought about a significant change by separating Apple’s mobile operating systems. While iPhones remained on iOS, the newly introduced iPadOS became the operating system for iPads. This has remained the case until now, with both iOS and iPadOS having version numbers that correspond, such as the current versions being iOS 16 and iPadOS 16.
The newest software versions are iOS 17 and iPadOS 17. You can currently download and install both iOS 17 and iPadOS 17.
List of iOS versions and latest versions
The following is a detailed analysis of the various versions of iOS that have been launched, their release dates, when they were last updated, and the most recent version of iOS.
The first version of iPhone operating system was launched on June 29, 2007, with the most recent update being version 1.1.5 released on July 15, 2008.
The second iteration of the iPhone operating system was launched on July 11, 2008, with the most recent update being version 2.2.1 released on January 27, 2009.
The iPhone operating system version 3 was launched on June 17, 2009, with the most recent update being version 3.2.2 released on August 11, 2010.
The fourth version of iOS, which was released on June 22, 2010, received its latest update (version 4.3.5) on July 25, 2011.
The fifth version of iOS was launched on October 12, 2011, with the most recent update being released on May 7, 2012.
The iOS 6 operating system was launched on September 19, 2012 and the most recent update, 6.1.6, was released on February 21, 2014.
The latest version of iOS, 7.1.2, was released on June 30, 2014, following its initial release on September 18, 2013.
The latest version of iOS 8 was released on September 17, 2014, with the most recent update being 8.4.1 on August 13, 2015.
The latest version of iOS 9 was released on September 16, 2015 and the most recent update, 9.3.6, was released on July 22, 2019.
The latest version of iOS 10, which was released on September 13, 2016, is 10.3.4 as of July 22, 2019.
The latest version of iOS, 11.4.1, was released on July 9, 2018. It was initially released on September 19, 2017.
The latest version of iOS, version 12, was released on September 17, 2018. The most recent update, version 12.5.7, was released on January 23, 2023.
The latest version of iOS, iOS 13, was released on September 19, 2019. The most recent update, version 13.7, was released on September 1, 2020.
The latest version of iOS 14 was released on September 17, 2020, with the most recent update being 14.8.1 on October 26, 2021.
The latest version of iOS, iOS 15, was released on September 24, 2021. The most recent update, 15.7.9, was released on September 11, 2023.
The latest version of iOS 16, which was released on September 12, 2022, is iOS 16.6.1 from September 7, 2023.
iOS 17 – Released September 18, 2023.
List of iPadOS versions
Although iOS was originally the operating system for the iPad, this changed when iPadOS 13 was launched in 2019. Since then, iPads have had their own platform, allowing Apple to fully utilize the capabilities of their larger devices. Here is a brief overview of the release history for iPadOS:
The latest version of iOS, iOS 12, was released on September 17, 2018. The most recent update, iOS 12.5.7, was released on January 23, 2023.
On September 24, 2019, iPadOS 13 was released. The latest version, 13.7, was released on September 1, 2020.
The latest version of iPad operating system, iPadOS 14, was released on September 16, 2020. The most recent update, 14.8.1, was released on October 26, 2021.
The latest version of iPadOS, 15.7.9, was released on September 20, 2021 with the most recent update scheduled for September 11, 2023.
The latest version of iPadOS, 16.6.1, was released on September 7, 2023, with the initial release of iPadOS 16 occurring on October 24, 2022.
iPadOS 17 – Released September 18, 2023.
You may also want to check: What is the duration of Apple’s support for iPads?
What versions of iOS are currently compatible?
Currently, Apple only supports iOS 17 for new features. However, for users with older iPhones, Apple still provides security updates for iOS 16 and possibly iOS 15. It is expected that iOS 15 will continue to be supported for the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhones 7 and 7 Plus, while iOS 16 will be supported for the iPhones 8 and 8 Plus.
Apple has deemed iOS 14 and iOS 13 as outdated since the devices that can run these operating systems are also capable of running iOS 15. While a security update for iOS 12 was released by Apple in January 2023, it is not expected that any future updates will be issued. This means that certain devices, such as the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5S, and some iPads, will not be able to upgrade beyond iOS 12. Fortunately, many iPhones are able to support newer versions of iOS. For more information on how long Apple supports iPhones, please refer to: How long does Apple provide support for iPhones?
We have a separate article that outlines the iOS compatibility for each iPhone model: Discover the latest version of iOS that your iPhone can run.
How to determine the iOS version on your iPhone
To determine your current iOS version, simply follow these steps: Go to Settings > General > About and locate the iOS Version number. This process applies to iPadOS as well.
Instructions for updating to the most recent iOS version.
If your iPhone is compatible, updating to the newest iOS version is straightforward. Your device will automatically determine if it is eligible for the upgrade, so there is no need for any investigation.
To determine if there are any updates available, navigate to Settings > General > Software Update on your iPhone. You may also receive a notification on the Settings page stating “Software Update Available,” which will direct you to the update page. This process applies to iPadOS as well.
If there are no new versions, a notification stating “iOS is current” will appear. If a new version is available, it will be displayed on the screen with the option to “Download and Install”. By choosing this option, your iPhone will update itself to the most recent version.
You may also refer to our guide for instructions on updating iOS on your iPhone.
Here is a brief overview of iOS and its evolution. If you’re interested in learning about the various versions of macOS, check out this article: “Mac OS X and macOS: A Comprehensive Guide to Every Release.”