Looking at the numbers alone, the different version of iOS have had quite a storied journey across their numerous releases. Those curious about the release dates of iOS past, present, and future–from versions 7, 8, 9, to 9.4–needn’t look any further than our handy, quick guide. We’ll outline some of the noteworthy additions made to the landmark operating system in the past, and provide a mix of speculation and facts in addressing what might be on the way in the newest version of iOS.
When stacked up against the competition, Apple’s success with iOS and its hosting devices–the iPhone and the iPad–provides a fairly remarkable little tale. Compared to Google’s Android OS, which stretches across a wide variety of hardware types from many different manufacturers, Apple places its software only on two lines of devices, yet still manages to hold and maintain a considerable amount of the smartphone and tablet market share, globally.
This is no small feat and it’s a testament to the continued ingenuity and accessible reliability attributed to the iOS operating system. As a longtime iOS users that occasionally dabbles in Android, I can admit my own bias without it affecting the guide to come–I’m a happy iPhone users, and will continue to be if Apple keeps up its update game. These updates have come with the traditional linearity of the software update process, with new versions of the operating system taking a new number (iOS 7 vs. iOS 8, as an example) while updates to each version remain smaller steps (iOS 7.1, 7.2, and onward.)
Apple has been both a leader and a follower in this regard, and healthy competition from other smartphone manufacturers and software developers has forced the company to develop new features that are fresh and exciting–right at the cusp of smartphone tech–while also incorporating those elements from the competition that are popular enough to be considered “standard” for a smartphone user. Each major update to Apple iOS has struck a balancing point between these two things, which you’ll see as we progress through the updates’ history.
Currently, we’re in the middle of enjoying iOS 9.3, which only released several days ago on May 16th, 2016. Although there’s a great deal of speculation about what iOS 10 is going to entail (and before that, iOS 9.4) we do not have release dates for either of these prospective iOS updates. As soon as Apple has released them, however, you can be sure that they’ll show up on Appamatix.
iOS Release Dates
For many years now, Apple has released a new version of iOS every year, both revealing the development and features and then releasing it along the same time frame every year. New versions of the operating system are typically debuted in June and then released several months later in mid-September. As you’ll see in the following details, there’s no reason to doubt that a similar update schedule will control when we see details about the mysterious iOS 10 that’s certainly in the middle of its development and testing cycle.
Following closely on the heels of iOS 6, this newer version of the operating system was previewed on June 10th, 216, and released on September 18th of the same year. In the typical Apple development trend, the few months in between were used to generate hype for the new OS’s new features, among which were an overhauled user interface (the biggest redesign since the iPhone’s initial launch), the Control Center, and refined aesthetic elements that breathed new life into design features that had becomes synonymous with the iPhone for years. The Control Center in particular, along with Air Drop, were pivotal updates that still give iOS an edge on its competition, with their overall simplicity.
Following in the same release window and time frame, iOS was previewed on June 2nd, 2014, and released on September 17th. It brought less brand new innovation than the massive redesign success that was iOS 7, but it expanded upon key components that added new and needed futures to several of Apple’s more widely used apps.
iOS 8 is when we saw the addition of QuickType to the iOS keyboard, which allowed predictive typing and faster communication. The ability to include audio and video recording through the Messages app was also added at this time, and could be accessed by simply pressing the “record” button within the app. iOS 8 also saw the innovation of two hugely popular iOS features–Health Kit and iCloud. Though iCloud remains a mystery for users that haven’t played around with it much, it’s 5GB of free cloud storage space that can hold your photos, app information, videos, and music. Health Kit helped iOS applications to integrate with your smartphone or other fitness hardware to help track your physical activity. Additionally, users could enter their medical information into Health Kit, which could then be accessed by EMTs in emergency situations from your home screen.
Finally, we catch up to the times with iOS 9. It was previewed on June 8th, 2015, and released on September 16th. Surprisingly, iOS remained a compatible operating system upgrade to anyone who had a device capable of running iOS 8; for previous releases, support for older devices was dropped so that the newer operating systems could consistently take advantage of newer hardware.
This is not the case with iOS 9, which again added critical features to already popular iOS apps. Siri–Apple’s virtual assistant–received a little bit of loving care in the form of a UI update and refined activation features. The service has always grown in small increments since it was added to iOS, and now, it’s a fairly powerful little piece of software. “Find My iPhone” became a preinstalled feature. Public transit lines were added to the Maps app. Apple Music debuted, which gave users an Apple-based music streaming solution that was ideal for iOS devices. Apple Watch integration became even more thorough and easier to use than when it first debuted. The list of minutia and important tweaks could go on and on, but the grand debut of iOS 9 wasn’t the only time that we saw new features added to the operating system.
iOS 9.3 added the “Night Shift” feature, which limits the amount of “blue light” that your phone screen emits during hours of your choosing. This is meant to encourage healthier sleep and resting habits for those that spend their before bed and waking hours on their phones and tablets.
iOS Updates to Come
Of course, the iOS 9 lifecycle isn’t over quite yet, and if the release of iOS 10 follows its predecessors’ examples, we won’t be seeing it until September, anyway. This leaves plenty of room for innovation, fine-tuning, and addition by way of iOS 9.4, which is rumored to currently be in beta testing.
As of right now, of course, iOS 9.4 is still on the way. A cursory search engine query will point you towards quite a few false leads, each promising to give you beta access to 9.4 or even download access to the update itself, none of which are currently available at a wide level.
The only course right now is patience, though it is odd that we have a better idea of when we’ll be receiving the next version of iOS than we do the next update, even though we’ll certainly see 9.4 before iOS 10.
Speaking of iOS 10, it’s a relatively good time to start getting excited about the features and improvement that it might contain. Standing upon the tradition of when we typically see iOS version previews, we’re less than a month away from getting a good idea of what we can expect from the next major update. As you might imagine, Apple news outlets are rife with speculation and excitement, none of which has been officially confirmed. Here are some of the features that many are expecting to see:
- Tighter integration with Apple Music. To say that Apple Music has been a fantastic success is an understatement. Apart from some obvious flaws when compared to its competition, it’s otherwise a fast, efficient, and comprehensive way to access all of the music that you’d find on iTunes.
- A refined iTunes. Now that Apple Music is here to stay, many iOS specialists are predicting that iTunes is going to receive a significant overhaul, perhaps even removing purchasable music from its storefront. It also looks as if the trend of being able to download iTunes-purchased music at any time, regardless of when it was purchased, may be coming to an end. Time to learn iCloud!
- Hide preinstalled applications. Those who abhor a cluttered smartphone have wanted to be able to clean up iOS’s preinstalled applications for quite a while, now. Hopefully, iOS 10 will allow iOS users to hide those sometimes-unnecessary applications, so we’re not required to stuff them into folders or into the far corners of the iPhone or iPad home screen.
Now that we’re right around the corner from an iOS 10 announcement (hopefully!) it’s a better time than ever to review some of the features that have made their way to the popular operating system. If we can form a guess based on the relative official release dates of iOS 7, 8, and 9 (9.4 notwithstanding), then we can soon put our iOS 10 speculation to rest, and start looking forward to its eventual release in September of 2016!