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What is iOS iPhone

Updated on November 26, 2012

(c) kevin languedoc (klanguedoc)

The first iOS Phone was introduced back in 2007. Back then as now, it was called an iPhone and it ran on an Unix derivative called the iPhoneOS. This OS also powered the iPod Touch but no the iPod music player which had made Apple “Cool”. In fact the iPod in many ways had paved the way for the iOS Phone (iPhone). With the iPod, Steve Jobs a.k.a Apple, also introduced iTunes which would go on to not only revitalize the music industry and all but eliminate music pirating and questionable music download sites, it created a best of breed distribution system for digital content that would become the iTunes today that offers consumers, music, videos, apps, podcasts and iTunes University. iTunes created an elegant way to download and listen to music in a safe way.

The iOS Phone was not necessarily unique or innovative because all the technology that the iPhone offered was already in use had been for several years. As far back as the late nineties. Remember the BlackBerry or Palm Pilot or even cell phones that featured limited assortment of apps from their respective manufacturers. However Steve and his team of engineers and designers were the first to bundle all these technologies together into a sleek package that Apple is famous for and the fact that Apple was already the “Cool” supplier of devices like the iPod, it was a shoo in for commercial success. In addition, through iTunes, you could download music and for the first time, apps through the iTunes store that could be developed by 3rd party developers. Around the same time, King of the Hill blackBerry also started selling apps through its own AppWorld store. But while BlackBerry was functional, the iPhone and Apple were cool. The rest is history.

So what is the iPhone or the iOS Phone. Basically it is a smartphone that offers a host of technologies that are consumers favorites like a music player, camera,a GPS, calendaring and scheduling, e-mail and chat and real time video chat (FaceTime) to name a few. Add to the mix some high quality apps that are easy to purchase and download through a distribution system made famous by the success of the iPod music player.

According to Apple recent Apple in the Enterprise event that I attended, Apple’s has 91% of the connected market (users with a data plan) and 68% of the market when not connected demonstrating the strength of the device and the iOS as a whole. The iOS running are quickly becoming the de facto device of choice in the Enterprise.

Technical Background
The iOS is an Unix derivative, meaning that the iOS itself an operating system, uses Unix as its base or kernel and then Apple has its own libraries to provide the functionality needed to run the iPhone smartphone and the other devices like the iPad (and Mini) and the iPod Touch. The current version is 6 and the operating system has four layers of abstraction, mainly: Core OS, Core Services, Media and Cocoa Touch.

Core OS
The Core OS layers includes all the interfaces to the operating system so an application can use and interface with the different technologies that are managed by the operating system. This can include Bluetooth, the Accelerate framework, security, interfaces to external accessories and system functions that encapsulate Posix and other Unix functions and C libraries. The OS layer also includes functionality for digital signal processing and provides the Accelerate framework and that handle advanced mathematical operations.

Core Services
One layer up from the Core OS, Core Services a huge of frameworks to interface with the mobile devices. Core Services provides most the functionality on the iPhone and related devices that doesn’t have a connection with media or the user interface.

The Core Services includes the following frameworks: Account, Address book, ADSupport, CFNetwork, Core Data, CoreFoundation, CoreLocation, CoreMedia, CoreMotion, CoreTelephony, EventKit, Foundation, MobileCoreServices, NewsstandKit, PassKit, QuickLook, Social, StoreKit, System Configuration and UI Automation.

Media Layer
As the word implies, the Media layer provides the functionality with graphics and audio and video capabilities both on the hardware and software sides. Under this layer you will find interfaces to the camera, the audio and video codecs. The following frameworks can found under this layer: AssetsLibrary, AudioToolbox, AudioUnit, AVFoundation, CoreAudio, CoreGraphics, CoreImage, CoreMidi, CoreText, CoreVideo, GLKit, ImageIO, MediaPlayer, OpenAL, OpenGLES, QuartzCore.

Cocoa Touch
The final layer is mostly focused on the user interface or more appropriately the interaction with the user. At this level you will find AddressBookUI, EventUIKit, GameKit, iAd, MapKit, MessageUI, Twitter, UIKit. also at this level is the APIs for event driven programming like gesturing and swiping. The Cocoa Touch layer also provides access to the other layers without needed to access these automatically.

Supported Products

Although the main focus of this article is about the iPhone, the iOS platform actually supports four products: iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and the iPod Touch.

The iPhone is the first product to be launched with the iOS operating system. It has gone through several versions since its launch: 1, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S & 5. The iPhone uses a touchscreen and keyboard so no mechanical keys are available. Since Apple uses glass instead of plastic, the tactile response when using your finger is excellent.

The iPhone comes with all the usually gadgets like the GPS, camera, Audio/Video playback and recording, calendar and contacts. You can send and receive e-mails as well as chat and of course it is a smartphone so you can use it to make phone calls. Apple added the FaceTime app which allows users to video chat with friends. Other the usual suite of technologies that are present in most smartphones, you can also download and install software applications that are designed and developed for the iPhone through the App Store on the device or through iTunes on a Mac or Windows.

The dimensions are : 123.8 mm (4.87 in) H, 58.6 mm (2.31 in) W, 7.6 mm (0.30 in) D (last version).

iPad & iPad Mini
The iPad (9.7 in-250 mm) and the iPad Mini (7.9 in-200 mm) is similar in functionality to the iPhone except that it doesn't have telephony capabilities. In essence the iPad is a portable computer and comes in a choice 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB or storage. There is no external storage capabilities, which is a major limitation of these devices. Also no USB or MicroUSB ports are included. The only connectivity is through WI-FI, Bluetooth (not for file transfer) or a connection cable.

Like the iPhone, the iPads can be extended with software applications that range from games to productivity apps, B2B and frameworks.

iPod Touch
The iPod Touch is nearly identical to the iPhone without the telephony support. All the other features are present and it can be extended with applications like the other devices.

Development Environment

The develop of applications can the native iOS SDK and the applications can be developed using Objective-C, C/C++ using the Xcode integrated development environment. the other option is to develop standalone web applications that are similar to native applications except they can use the devices technologies like the camera. The Developer platform includes a web development IDE called Dashcode to develop web applications for all the devices and you can even run them in the iPhone Simulator.

iTunes Web Store

All the devices allow users to purchase and download software apps either through an app on the device title AppStore which users to directly purchase and download apps or a user can purchase and downloads apps through the iTunes software application on Mac and Windows computers. Users can only use these apps on their devices and the apps automatically synced to the device once the device is connected to the host computer.


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