Exploring iOS

Apple's Mobile Operating System iOS

When Apple advanced their desktop operating system to version ten in the late 1990s, they were making plans to do more than simply build a better computer. They were focused on building a better experience. The result was iOS, which is essentially a fork of OS X optimized for mobile devices and the touch screen interface.


Apple iOS was designed to support devices like the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. As such it has much lower hardware requirements and can run on hardware with far less CPU power or memory. It presents apps on a home screen which is the destination for its "home button." Although it can use external hardware like keyboards and mice, it relies on a touch interface.

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iOS is very much like OS X in that it supports a wide variety of media types like mp4 video, mp3 audio and numerous image types and data formats. This is important because many of the features of iOS hardware, like the camera, Siri and music services rely on these basic media types. It runs apps downloaded from the iTunes "App Store" and can communicate with most desktop computers, including Macintosh, Windows PCs and Linux.

The system also has a rather sophisticated notification center which arranges user information in a reverse chronology for convenience.


The iOS system can retrieve patches directly from the web using a wi-fi connection. These help keep the system from experiencing software incompatibilities or encountering security problems.

iOS devices have also always had the ability to update through the iTunes desktop application, which also provides a mechanism for backing up the device in the event there is a problem with the installation of new software or a patch.

Benefits of iOS

When measuring the pros and cons of a mobile operating system, the key considerations are ease of use and compatibility. Mobile hardware is reliant on an ability to work well with external infrastructure and cannot be successful if it is difficult to work with.

Apple has always been successful in creating a full-featured "ecosystem" for its hardware. Updates, apps, hardware and software can all be obtained easily within the boundaries of Apple's many businesses. This is likely the key benefit to iOS. It provides users with a single quality experience with a minimum of effort.

Drawbacks of iOS

Like any system with rigid boundaries, iOS suffers from its inability to take advantage of creative destruction. Apps find their way to devices slowly and must meet stringent requirements. The user experience is slow to change, if at all. Developers find themselves unable to experiment for fear of being shut out of the marketplace.

Apple's mobile devices have become the industry standard in only a few short years. While other systems offer a wide variety of alternatives, iOS is an example of what is possible when a successful company focuses on building the best possible product.