An evolution: a look at the changes in iPhones and iOS over time

November 28, 2016

Asher Maitin, Eastside Entertainment Editor

iPhones have revolutionized the world. Period. Just as the iPhone has developed over the past decade or two, the world as we know it has evolved to fit the demand. Even though the iPhone isn’t the most popular phone in the world- the 6th generation iPhone falls only behind Nokia’s 1100 and 1110 models in terms of number of units sold, in history- it has undoubtedly changed the way humans connect in the most simplistic, yet advanced, ways possible.

The first Apple device I received was on my 10th birthday: an iPod touch, fourth generation. It was thin, sleek and sat in a tight blue case. It wasn’t an iPhone, but barring the ability to call people, it housed many of the same features that 2016 iPhone users still utilize on a daily basis. The ability to call didn’t matter to me much at the time; I still had a flip phone- yeah, remember those?- to satisfy the very few times I actually dialed up someone’s number to speak to them as an incoming 6th grader. I loved my iPod. It was more advanced than my brother’s iPod touch, a third generation, which didn’t even have a camera. My iPod had a back camera and a front camera. It had 32 GB of storage that I never came close to filling. It contained hundreds of my favorite songs, which I just couldn’t get past. Any of my music, whenever I wanted. It was crazy. Ironically, it’s a luxury I don’t even enjoy today. But we’ll get to that later.

The coolest feature on my iPod was FaceTime. I was a big video-chatter. I used to use services like Oovoo and Skype, but it became a hassle lugging my computer around with me. I had to check with my friends to make sure they were also online, which was always confusing. I needed a simplified version and that’s exactly what Apple provided.

My iPod didn’t transition into an iPhone until the summer before my sophomore year of high school, the same phone I still carry around today as a senior. My small blue case turned into a big Otter Box. It’s a 5th generation, with Siri capabilities, which, to the disbelief of many, I’ve never cracked or broken or destroyed.

My iPhone does everything I need a phone to do. It wakes me up, tells me the time, temperature, where I should eat, displays my messages, contains all my contacts and any information I would ever need to access on the internet. The biggest problem I’ve had with it is the storage. It contains 16 GB, half of what my iPod held, and it seems as if I’m always deleting apps, pictures and messages to compensate for the necessary storage in order to perform everyday functions. As a result, I lack several of the features that other iPhone users enjoy: having music actually stored on my phone (much different from my iPod, which harbored hundreds of my favorite songs), having the ability to download fresh apps on a daily basis, storing movies and shows on my phone and any other activities that require storage, including updating my iOS.

However, I love the contents of my phone. They wouldn’t stay on there all this time if I didn’t use them all the time. They reflect who I am: the massive amounts of pictures I take, SoundCloud to hold my favorite music, MLB At Bat app to supply me with baseball updates, etc. So while my experience with iPhone hasn’t been perfect, it’s been everything I could have asked for.

iPhones are not done changing, just like humanity. Therefore, as you scroll through the changes to Apple’s phones and operating systems, recall the impact they’ve had on you or others and feel free to make a prediction as to where you feel Apple’s iPhones will take the world in the next decade.

Jenna Simons, Eastside News/Features Editor

Since the iOS 10 release on September 13, iPhone users have acclimated to their new software. With many benefits that outweigh the few negatives, downloading iOS 10 should be done.

As an avid Emoji user, I love the seventy-two new Emojis that Apple added. Apple made strides with Emojis in the previous iOS update, however the most recently added are the most inclusive yet.

In the iOS 9 update, Emojis with different skin tones were added. iOS 10 took this one step further by adding darker and lighter skin-tone options. Apple also made the Emojis inclusive to both sexes, adding a male emoji equivalent for every female emoji that existed and vice versa. Two of my favorite emoji additions are the LGBTQ+ flag and the Emoji that fits my family, a single father with two children.

With the software update also came major improvements to Siri. Apple made partnerships with third-party Apps, such as Lyft, so that they are accessible in Siri. For example, asking Siri to get you a Lyft will result in the App being opened in Siri, instead of the App being opened separately.

However, this has its limitations. As an Uber user, I am unable to order an Uber through Siri because they haven’t connected with Apple for that purpose. There are a few steps I can conduct in Siri, such as confirming the number of passengers when I first ask Siri to get me an Uber, but the rest of the transaction must be done in the app.

One major complaint with past softwares was that they drained battery life. I have not noticed a draining of battery with iOS 10, if anything I noticed the opposite. Prior to iOS 10, I would typically end the school day with about 20% battery left on my phone. Since the update, I leave school with my phone still about half charged.

However, I updated my phone to iOS 10 from the most recent software. According to, those who transitioned from an older version of iOS to iOS 10 might not have as good as an experience as those downloading from newer versions.

The software update also included a few new features in iMessage that will excite millennials. The ability to send Gifs directly from iMessage adds personality to conversations. Even though there might not be words or an Emoji to depict how I’m feeling, there is a Gif that fits every mood. From eye rolls to excitement, you can search exactly what you’re looking for and appropriate Gifs will be shown for your selection.

Another addition to iMessage is the ability to send drawings, custom or already made, such as the kiss. While this feature is a fun addition, it doesn’t have a lot of fundamental use and I rarely find myself using it.

The same can be said for reactions to other people’s texts. Similar to Facebook statuses, texters can love, like, dislike, laugh, exclaim or question a text. I feel that this is pointless because reaction is shown in the reply to a text.

Overall, the iOS 10 update was a beneficial next step for Apple products. The addition of inclusive Emojis, better battery life and a more interactive Siri are just a few of the features that make iOS 10 better than the other softwares.

Asher Maitin, Eastside Entertainment Editor

iPhone Operating System 3 was released along with the iPhone 3GS, on June 17, 2009. New features included Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), the ability to copy and paste and in-app purchases. iOS 3.1.3 was the last version of iPhone Operating System 3 that was supported by the original iPhone and iPod touch. Apple devices that supported iOS 2.x could upgrade to the new software. iPhone OS 3.1.2 was released shortly after in an attempt to fix apparent issues, such as the device not being able to wake from sleep. Devices that could support the operating system included iPhone (1st generation, 3G and 3GS), iPod Touch (1st generation, 2nd generation, 3rd generation) and iPad (1st generation). The operating system cost $4.95 for 1st and 2nd generation iPod touch users, but was free to 3rd generation iPod touch users and all iPhone and iPad users.

Nafessa Jaigirdar, Eastside Webmaster

With the release of iOS 4 came many new features to Apple devices. Apple integrated a sort of multitasking feature, similar to what is seen on newer Apple devices. Essentially what it does is it leaves apps running in the background, allowing the user to quickly switch between apps simply by double clicking on the home button. Unlike with earlier iOS versions, apps do not have to re-launch every time the user wants to open one. Other features found on the new iOS included automated spell-check and auto-rotate mode, but only on certain applications.  The new update also allows users to create folders on their home pages, to change their wallpapers and to create passcodes longer than the 4-digit passcode that was previously allowed. With this update, Apple also introduced two new apps, iBooks and Facetime. Both of these apps, but particularly Facetime, would come to be defining features of the iPhone. Perhaps the best and most important aspect of the update however, was that it was the first iOS update to be free for all users.

Ashley Cooper, Eastside Editor-in-Chief

On September 12, 2012, the iPhone five was first unveiled at a press event, and by September 21 of that same year the phone was available for purchase. Strikingly evolutionized in design, performance and connectivity, the iPhone five strongly diversified itself from its predecessors.

In terms of design, the iPhone five was a big step up from its previous generations. With the introduction of the iPhone five, Apple increased the phone’s screen display for the first time. Apple designers purposefully increased the screen’s width, but maintained its length, as so the phone could still be used comfortably with merely one hand. In spite of its increased size, the iPhone five still remained the thinnest, lightest iPhone, at that time. According to Bob Mansfield, the Senior Vice President at the time of the iPhone five’s installment, many components within the new iPhone had to be made smaller in order to attain the desired dimensions. As opposed to the iPhone four, the iPhone five was 18% thinner, 7.6 mm in depth,  and 20% lighter, with a weight of 112 grams.

The iPhone five also included the new “lightning connector,” which is still used on iPhone’s to this day. Digital and reversible, the connector was certainly an invention ahead of its time. The all-new sapphire covering of the photo lens was also a brilliant idea by Apple, introduced within this model of the phone. This added to the durability of the phone by increasing the optics and also was thin enough for users to maintain.

The iPhone five was also revolutionary in terms of its speed capabilities; it was the first iPhone capable of reaching LTE connectivity. LTE, Long Term Evolution, was a first-generation 4G technology, which rapidly increased an iPhone’s downloading capabilities over cellular networks. In addition to LTE, Apple introduced the A6 Chip in the iPhone five generation; this chip had capabilities to nearly double speeds of the new iPhone. LTE and the A6 chip worked in conjunction to catalyze the high-speed world in which we live in today.

As well as improving performance, the Apple A6 Chip revolutionized the iPhone’s design. The chip made the new iPhone generation much more detailed and enhanced frame rates for App graphics. Power efficient, the A6 Chip served a dual purpose within the phone, efficiently increasing battery life while also increasing performance.

Overall, the iPhone five served as the transition-point from iPhones of the past to the iPhones of the future. The new model, seamlessly designed down to precision of microns, allowed Apple to leap forward into the products that are so frequently used today.

Ashley Cooper, Eastside Editor-in-Chief

In comparison to the other major iOS updates, iOS 5 was most definitely a disappointment. Hosting a scarce number of updates, the software did little to satisfy users needs. Though the concept of iOS 5 was introduced on June 6, 2011 at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, iOS 5 was not actually released until that fall on October 4, 2011.

Nevertheless, iOS 5 did offer some new options for iPhone users. iOS 5 is most known for its initiation of Apple’s cloud-service entitled “iCloud.” Enabling this type of synchronization across all Apple devices, definitely appears appealing. However, the iCloud did not satisfy user needs, with only 5GB of available for free.

iOS five also offered a subtle change in the notification system of the iPhone. Rather than interrupting users, the notifications now appeared on the top of the screen in a non-intrusive manner. This version of iOS also introduced the first installment of the Apple’s notification center, putting the company toe-to-toe with Samsung’s design.

iOS 5 was also a very universal software. Allowing iMessage to be accessible on all Apple devices benefited users in terms of communication. iOS 5 also allowed users to use the “Reminders” app to create tasks (both date-based and location-based), which could be shared, and thus alert, all Apple devices. Users were also able to sync and update wirelessly as a result of iOS 5, making for once again a much more universal experience.

Hope Rosenblatt, Eastside Entertainment Editor

While September 19, 2012 marks the first release of iOS 6, it is not until February, 2014, that, after nine updates, the final version, iOS 6.16, is released. Each of the updates leading up to iOS 6.16 includes the fixing of minor bugs and other issues. With the end of Apple’s  licensing deal with Google, iOS 6 does not include a pre-installed Youtube application. The complete version of iOS 6 includes Apple Maps instead of Google Maps which eliminates lag and includes  turn-by-turn navigation spoken directions, 3D views in major cities and real time traffic. A new aspect iOS 6 brings is the retrieval of documents such as boarding passes, admissions tickets, coupons and loyalty cards through the new Passbook application. Siri can now make restaurant reservations, launch apps, read notifications and dictate Facebook or Twitter updates. iOS 6 also includes a feature called “limit ad tracking,”  which allows users the option to prevent targeted advertising. One of the most exciting aspects of iOS 6 includes a special new panorama feature within the camera, which allows users to take 240-degree panoramic photos.

Ashley Cooper, Eastside Editor-in-Chief

According to Senior Vice President of iPhone Software, Scott Fortsall, iPhone five was made in a far more fluid, responsive and fast manner than any prior models. This was primarily due to its seamless integration between hardware and software.

This version of iOS is most revolutionary in its instillation of an all-new version of the Maps Application. Fly-over mode, in which buildings and landmarks figuratively morph into three-dimensional shapes on a screen, allowed users to have a complete different experience than ever before. Also, this version of maps introduced the first-ever “turn-by-turn” instruction feature, which really helped users in all of their traveling pursuits.

Additionally, iOS 6 allowed for enhanced capabilities in both portrait and landscape modes. In iOS 6, wide screen mode offered simple viewing of HD videos, while portrait mode offered viewers an easily held experience. Both modes also hosted a variety of new photo taking capabilities, including the panoramic view.

Several iPhone apps also were remodeled in this version of iOS. Siri’s functions were increased to finding restaurant locations and reporting team scores. Facebook became directly integrated into the iOS Software as well, making the process much simpler for iPhone users.

Finally, iOS 6 very much so improved FaceTime abilities, for the first time allowing users to FaceTime loved ones cellularly, in addition to through wifi.

Abigail Richman, Eastside Business Manager

iOS has changed immensely over the years from a simple touch operating system to an operating system with more features and tools that one could possibly need. This operating system has definitely been one of the most useful modifications of the iPhone in a while as it includes many hands-off stuff.

The iOS 7 reinvented the screen and every app on the iPhone to make it more of a simplified look. Apple had changed their font to a more desirable one for a nicer view of the home screen. Along with the outside views, the iOS 7 advanced their control center making it much easier to get around the phone. People are now able to quickly locate Wifi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode and many other settings, as well as quickly launch their flashlight, calculator or camera just by scrolling up on the homepage.

Multi-tasking is an option now as users can double click the home button to either switch or kill different apps. Apple also implemented AirDrop, making a more convenient way to share pictures and more with either contacts or people nearby. iTunes radio also transformed into an application more comparable to Pandora.

Now, iOS 10 has been revised, including more tools and features that anyone could ever imagine having in one device. iOS has been advanced to simplify the wants of iPhone users making it faster to move around the phone.

Brooke Greenberg, Eastside Opinions Editor

On September 17, 2014, iOS 8 was released as the new installment of Apple’s software system used to operate the phones on a technological and visual level. iOS 8 brought some new features to the fingertips of Apple users that have never been brought to the tech world before. Users could now set up personal hotspots to use their phone as a wifi base. For text messages, consumers are now able to send audio and visual messages much quicker as well as switch back and forth between iMessage and SMS. “Leave the Conversation” and “Do not disturb” were also big features for the new update as well. Smart search was enabled in the photos app which organized photos by date and location to make a more efficient way to view photos. The last major change was to the health app. Medications, health and fitness can be stored and users can create an “emergency card” in case a medical professional or first responder needs to access your medical information.

Eric First, Eastside Underground Editor

On September 16, 2015, Apple released the ninth version of the iPhone operating system (iOS). With this new operating system, Apple did not drop support for any of its iOS devices, rather it offered an upgrade for each of the devices compatible with iOS 8.

Just five days after the release of iOS 9, Apple reported that 50% of active iOS devices as measured by activity on the App Store had updated to the new iOS. This was the fastest recorded rate of downloads for any iOS.

One of the numerous additions in iOS 9 was 3D Touch with pressure sensitivity.  Available on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, 3D Touch allows users to take advantage of Quick Actions and Peek and Pop. Quick Actions preview command options within an app, right on the home screen, without completely opening the app. Peek and Pop is a similar feature that gives users a preview of content within an app without opening it. The iPhone uses the pressure sensitivity in order to sense how hard the user is pressing on the screen. Depending on the amount of force exerted when the user touches the screen, different commands will be carried out by the operating system.

Other new features involve Apple’s preinstalled apps. Based on the time of day, as well as the interests of the user, the Maps app now makes recommendations for nearby points of interest. In the Notes app, users now have the ability to draw sketches and create bulleted lists.

In iOS 9, the Passbook and Newsstand apps were each given a complete makeover. The Passbook app, now called Wallet, provides support for more types of cards including gift cards and Discover debit/credit cards. The Newsstand app, renamed News, presents news from numerous sources in one convenient place. Rather than Newsstand, which would only allow users to view their subscriptions to certain periodicals, the News app recommends top stories from the users’ favorite publications.

On iOS 9.3, Apple introduced Night Shift. This setting allows users to set a period of time to give the screen a warmer orange tint, in order to reduce straining of the eyes at night.

Other enhancements to iOS include a low power mode and a face down recognition that turns off the screen when the iPhone is upside down. These features are both meant to conserve energy. Also, Apple improved security in order to continue to preserve the confidentiality of user information.

The last version of iOS 9 was iOS 9.3.5, which was released on August 25, 2016.

Ashley Cooper, Eastside Editor-In-Chief

When I first heard of this “smartphone” innovation, I had reached the conclusion of my third grade school year. Instantly, I had some sort of vendetta against the phone. The idea of such an advanced device seemed too foreign, too good to be true. The mature eight-year-old that I was, I made a solemn vow: I would never own an iPhone.

And I stuck to this vow for quite a while. Throughout my elementary school years, I happily kept my motorola slide in my bookbag. I enjoyed my Taylor Swift ringtone, which was not available on the iPhone. For some reason, I felt oddly superior to all of my iPhone possessing classmates, as if refusing societal norms gave me some sort of power.

In middle school, I upgraded my motorola for a Samsung. With a Galaxy S4, I felt completely content; I had a quick processor, a scenic camera and 4G capabilities. What more could I need?

But when I stepped foot into Cherry Hill East, I realized I did need a lot more. With every new club that I joined, the necessity of group iMessage became more and more increasingly apparent.

Subsequently, on my third week of high school, I broke the vow that I had so fervently abided by for 6 years of my life– I left my Samsung behind, buying the iPhone 5.

Right after purchasing the phone I was fearful that I had made a mistake. Had I invested hundreds of dollar, in a product I didn’t even like? But once I got home I realized that was not the case at all…what I had been so long avoiding, was actually a blessing in disguise.

The overall design of the iPhone was instantly more pleasing to me. Though the design of a phone appears as a minute detail, it actually means a lot to me, since I am on my phone pretty frequently throughout the day. Not only is the iPhone more vibrant in terms of its display, in my opinion it’s also a far more cleaner experience than using a Samsung. The iPhone is intentionally user-friendly, which makes it far easier to navigate.

Most appealing about the iPhone is it’s accessibility. I frequently lose my phone, so having iCloud coverage is of extreme importance to me. Because of iCloud, I am able to use an amazing App called “Find my iPhone”; whenever my phone is lost I can just sign in to my Find my iPhone account, send an alarm to my phone and then promptly find t. I cannot even begin to fathom how many times I have used this feature to retrieve my phone, but I am sure it is venturing on at least 200. Even after losing my phone in a Texas mega-mall, Find my iPhone came to the rescue.

However, I must say that I will not be purchasing the iPhone 7. I am highly disappointed with its overt resemblance to its predecessor (the iPhone 6). No, instead I will wait for the next generation of iPhone, as I’m sure the iPhone 8 will deliver me with the same innovation that I have come to know and love.

Thank You!

Eastside thanks you for reading our media package on the evolution of the iPhone and iOS. Please comment with questions below. Also, take our quiz to see what you have learned by reading this package!

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