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What is iOS?

What is iOS? It’s Apple’s operating system for iPhone and we’re here to explain everything you need to know how it works and what it is.

What is iOS: The iOS 17 logo in an orange, red, and purple app icon, pasted on an orange to red PT background

What is iOS? Well, that’s a simple question and a complicated question at the same time. So, we’ve put together a handy guide to answer it for you. Plus, we explain how to update iOS, what the latest version is, and what features you can find therein.

Once you learn everything you need to about iOS, we’ve got loads of other guides to keep you sated. We’ve got the best portable gaming consoles for all you tech heads, plus our Fortnite download guide to help you play the banned game on Apple’s hardware.

Anyway, what is iOS?

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What is iOS?

iOS is an operating system, meaning it’s the base software that lets an iPhone function, and through which you interact with the device. An operating system controls everything on the backend, but when we think of iOS we’re more interested in the front end.

On the front end, iOS is the means by which you interact with an iPhone. It’s the user interface, with its lock screen, home screen, settings, and apps for you to fiddle around with.

What is iOS: Three iPhones showing off new features from iOS 17 including fitness elements

What does iOS stand for?

iOS stands for iPhone Operating System. It used to simply be called ‘iPhone OS’ but, since the launch of other ‘i’ products, Apple changed the name. The iPad version is technically called iPadOS.

How do I update iOS?

If you want to update iOS you need to follow these steps:

  • Unlock your iPhone
  • Go to the settings app
  • Press ‘General’
  • Tap ‘Software update”
  • Press ‘Update’ if there’s one available.

If there’s no update available, your phone will simply say which version of iOS you have, plus the reassuring sentence ‘iOS is up to date.’

What is the latest version of iOS?

The latest version of iOS is iOS 17.5.1. This is the latest version of iOS 17. You can learn more about beta versions of iOS later in the article.

What’s new in iOS 17.5.1?

Here are the latest patch notes, explaining what’s new in iOS 17.5 while we wait for the specifics of iOS 17.5.1, though it’s mostly fixes for quite dull techy things…

What is iOS: A photograph of someone's bedside table featuring a landscape iPhone on a MagSafe stand with a fullscreen landscape digital clock display in various shades of purple on a black background

When does iOS 18 release?

There is no iOS 18 release date at the moment, however, new versions of Apple’s iPhone operating system always launch in September. So, you can expect iOS 18 to launch in September 2024. There will also be a beta version, most likely in July.

How do I download the iOS beta?

To enroll in an iOS beta, head to Apple’s beta program page and follow the instructions. Either sign up or sign in, enroll the device you want to use for the beta, and download the beta profile to your phone.

Be wary, however, as beta versions are obviously not as stable as final releases. It’s also possible that they have security issues that the developers don’t catch until the full public release. Download at your own risk.

Anyway, now that we’ve answered the question ‘what is iOS’, how about some more Apple? We’ve got the best Apple Arcade games or just a full list of every Apple Arcade game so you can see what’s on offer.