In 2007, Romania and Bulgaria became members of the European Union. Microsoft burnt its hands with the disastrous Windows Vista. Gordon Brown became the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
And the Apple iPhone was born.
Cut to a year forward (July 2008), and Apple Inc. released iPhone OS 2 – codenamed the ‘Big Bear’. That was the point when we full-fledgedly started making apps for the iOS platform. Seven years have passed since, the fourth beta version of iOS 9.2 is out – and it makes us almost nostalgic to look back on our long – and if we can say so ourselves – successful journey as a mobile app company. In today’s discussion, we will compare the iOS version we started off working with, iPhone OS 2.0, with iOS 9 – the version that is codenamed ‘Monarch’:
- The devices – iPhone 3G made its debut with iPhone OS 2.0 – opening up a slew of new, and exciting, opportunities for app developers worldwide. Also running on that iOS version was the older iPhone 2G and the first generation iPod Touch (iPod Touch Gen 2 joined in with the iOS 2.1 update). And what devices do we have with iOS 9? Apart from iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, there is the sixth-generation iPod Touch, the iPad Mini 4, the hyped-to-the-skies iPad Pro, and the iPad Air 2. As far as backward support goes, iOS 9 can be downloaded and installed on iPhone 4S handsets.
- The App Store – By mid-2015, the number of third-party applications in the Apple App Store had gone past the 1,500,000 mark. Reports conducted by iOS app development experts reveal that mobile games, business applications, and educational software are the three most popular categories (in that order). All of these is a far cry from the situation in 2008 – when Apple introduced the App Store with iPhone OS 2.0. General users heaved a sigh of relief at having the App Store on their devices (as well as within iTunes) – and not having to download stuff from buggy external app stores. Distribution of iPhone applications got revolutionized with ‘Big Bear’.
- The screen size – Let’s turn our attentions exclusively to the iPhone now. In 2008, the iPhone 3G (a revolutionary ‘finally!’ device at that point in time) had a 3.5” display screen, with what was at that time a mighty impressive 320×480 screen resolution. Things have got literally ‘bigger’ in recent years, with iPhone 6 being the first ‘large-screen’ iPhone, with a 4.7” screen. The display resolution of the device is 750×1334. The comparison is not even close.
- The iOS SDK – Another point of interest of professional iPhone app developers was the software development kit (SDK) that iOS 2.0 ‘Big Bear’ came with. 3D game development, for the first time, received some sort of momentum – and in general, iOS applications became more user-friendly, seamless, and well-designed (compared to the apps users had access to earlier) than ever before. Only after the launch of Xcode 3.1 did it become the default IDE for mobile app development for the iOS platform. Its features seem thoroughly inadequate if you (unfairly!) compare with those of Xcode 7 for iOS 9.
- iPhone storage space – The good ol’ iPhone 3G, running on iPhone OS 2, had a RAM space of 128 MB – a fairly measly level. The internal memory was 8GB or 16GB. It’s a good thing that the storage space of iPhones have increased in sync with the expansion in activities of mobile app agencies, and the propensity of people to install more and more software on their devices. The iPhone 6S is available in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models, with a RAM space of 2GB. The only thing that has remained constant is the status of card slots in iPhone 3G and iPhone 6S. Wasn’t present then…isn’t present now!
- Cloud service – For all of its innovative features, iOS 2.0 wasn’t without its fair share of disappointments. The cloud-based service MobileMe, which was supposed to be an ideal replacement of .MAC, turned out to be lacking in terms of reliability. The lofty price (the subscription fee was $99/year) kept MobileMe from becoming really popular as well. Apple persisted with the service till June 2012 though – until it was finally replaced by iCloud – a better, more secure, and way more user-friendly feature.
- Battery performance – The battery life of the iPhone 6S/6S Plus is still nothing to really write home still – but compared with the performance of the battery of iPhone 3G, it is practically out-of-the-world. The Li-ion battery of the iOS 2.0-powered handset promised 10 hours of talk time and a full day of music play. The 3G-supported talk time has been revved up to 14 hours by the 1715 mAh Li-Po battery. There has been a big difference in the standby times of the ‘Big Bear’ and the ‘Monarch’ iPhones. The former had a standby time of 300 hours (max.), while the latter offers 3G-based standby of 240 hours.
- The evolution of iTunes – As iPhone app developers and Apple fans gear up for the stable release of iOS 9.2, iTunes 12.3.1 has already been made available for download. Back in 2008, the latest version of iTunes was iTunes 7.7. The corresponding OS X version was 10.5.4. The oldest version with which iTunes 12.3.1 is compatible with is OS X 10.8.5.
- Email – Microsoft Exchange arrived with iOS 2.0 for push email support – and that was big news at the time. The revamped contact search and calendar also came in for praise from software and mobile app developers. It all seems pretty much trifling when compared against the email features of iOS 9 – with the long-press option to add attachments to the body of mails, and the breakthrough multitasking features that make Mail extremely user-friendly.
- The ‘iPhone without the iPhone’ – Or, the iPod Touch. With a high percentage of iPhone applications at the App Store being compatible with the iPod Touch as well, it is worth noting how the device has evolved over the years. The first-gen iPod Touch had (what was at that time good enough) 8GB of storage space, and 22 hours of music-playing feature. While the display screen of the sixth-generation iPod Touch has not increased much (4” vs 3.5”), users can now choose either the 16GB or the 32GB (Blue or Gold) models. Customizing new applications for the latest iPod Touch has emerged a priority for mobile app developers.
- Processor – iPhone 3G and iPhone OS 2.0 hark back to the days of the slow (it did not seem so at the time though) ARM 11 412 MHz CPU. Successors of that device have got faster and more efficient – and the iPhone 6S comes with the dual-core Twister 1.84 GHz CPU (along with the cutting-edge Apple A9 chipset). The six-core GPU of the iOS 9 device was also a distant pipe dream in 2008.
- Stability vs New features – Those were early days for Apple’s mobile ecosystem, and understandably, iOS 2.0 was armed with a host of new features and enhancements. As general users of iPhone 2G/3G as well as iOS app developers would confirm, the version performed poorly on the stability count though. App crashes, screen freezes and general laggy behaviour were common, and the Cupertino company had to hurriedly come up with the iOS 2.1 update for fixing the bugs (somewhat similar to the problematic iOS 8 and its damage-repairing successor iOS 8.1).
- Camera features – iPhone 6S and 6S Plus has fancy features like Live Photos and dual LED flash – things that had not even been conceptualized seven years back. Compared to the 12 MP camera of the latest flagship iPhone, the 2MP snapping tool of iPhone 3G seems decidedly miniscule. The resolution of photos taken with the iPhone was 1600×1200 at the time, as opposed to the sharp 4032×3024 that the new model offers. Users can now capture videos (2160p) and 30fps. The iOS 2.0-powered smartphone neither had video recording capability, nor was there a secondary (selfie) camera. Yep, sounds pretty outdated now!
- NFC vs no-NFC – In 2010, Google launched the first-ever smartphone with NFC support, the Nexus S. It took four more years for Apple to catch up with its arch-rival in this field, with 2014’s iPhone 6 being the first iDevice with a NFC chip. Contactless payments via Apple Pay is quickly gaining in popularity, and iOS developers are releasing many new m-commerce apps every quarter. Back in 2008, there was no NFC (of course) on iPhone 3G. It had Bluetooth 2.0 headset support (as opposed to Bluetooth 4.2 in iPhone 6S). Unlike iPhone 6S, the older device had no reversible connector (USB) either.
While the differences between iOS 2 ‘Big Bear’ and iOS 9 ‘Monarch’ might seem huge at first – the changes have been, in fact, subtle – introduced over the different versions of the iOS platform. There was a major design overhaul with iOS 7, while other features have been gradually added on by Apple. As the platform has evolved, so have the challenges and required knowledge pool of those who create iPhone applications. The baton of helming WWDC keynotes and iPhone releases have passed on from Steve Jobs to Tim Cook – but new iPhones have not ceased to generate their customary excitements among fans and detractors alike.
iOS 10 ‘Fuji’ is up next!
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