by Gerald Boerner


JerryPhoto_8x8_P1010031 Few things have taken the marketplace like the iPhone from Apple Computer. One can think of the iPod, the Macintosh, the IBM PC, the television, and perhaps the superhighways (the road system and the Internet). The iPhone OS that powers this phone allows the user to manipulate the screen with finger movements, not a mouse or keyboard. But probably the most impacting element is the support for third-party applications that run under this iPhone OS. This has transformed a cell phone into a mini-computer and has raised the bar for all of its competitors.  GLB


“What is so brilliant about the gadgets is their simplicity.”
— Desmond Llewelyn

“I liked to work in a shop down in the basement and invent things and build gadgets.”
— Francis Ford Coppola

“I’m pretty basic as far as technique is concerned. I don’t use many gadgets, and I like the sound my guitar makes, anyway.”
— Brian May

“I think there’s a tendency for modern man to become dominated by gadgets and machines, taking us further and further away from the things I’ve been talking about.”
— Robin Day

“I like being 35, I like having a bit of money to spend on music and useless gadgets. The net is providing new ways to communicate and cooperate that just didn’t exist in the 80s.”
— Malcolm Wilson

“Because the series is situated in the next century, and for the most part under water, there are many innovative technical gadgets. It’s a kind of StarTrek. When I first came there, I was really impressed myself.”
— Jonathan Brandis

“I played the organ when I went to military school, when I was 10. They had a huge organ, the second-largest pipe organ in New York State. I loved all the buttons and the gadgets. I’ve always been a gadget man.”
— Stephen Sondheim

“This is the other thing: we make the cost of raising kids higher than it has to be just because we feel they need all this stuff, like gadgets, certain schools, and activities that are nice but aren’t really necessary.”
— Patricia Heaton

History of Hand-Held Computers: The iPhone OS

IPhonehomescreen iPhone OS is a mobile operating system developed and marketed by Apple Inc. It is the default operating system of the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad.

It is derived from Mac OS X, with which it shares the Darwin foundation, and is therefore a Unix-like operating system by nature. iPhone OS has four abstraction layers: the Core OS layer, the Core Services layer, the Media layer, and the Cocoa Touch layer. The operating system uses less than 500 megabytes of the device’s storage.

The iPhone OS was introduced at the Macworld Conference & Expo on January 9, 2007, as the primary operating system of the iPhone, which was released in June of that year. Initially, Apple had no plans to release a software development kit (SDK) for the OS, which meant the only third-party applications with official support were web applications.

The OS had no official name until March 6, 2008, when the first beta version of the iPhone SDK was released. Before then, Apple marketing literature simply said that the “iPhone uses OS X”.

As of April 8, 2010 (2010 -04-08), there were more than 185,000 applications available for the iPhone OS with over four billion downloads. The 4.0 edition announced in April 2010 introduced multitasking as well as a slew of business-oriented features, including encryption for email and attachments.

User Interface

The user interface of iPhone OS is based on the concept of direct manipulation, using multi-touch gestures. Interface control elements consist of sliders, switches, and buttons. The response to user input is supposed to be immediate to provide a fluid interface. Interaction with the OS includes gestures such as swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching. Internal accelerometers are used by some applications to respond to shaking the device (one common result is the undo command) or rotating it in three dimensions (one common result is switching from portrait to landscape mode).

A home screen (rendered by “SpringBoard”) with application icons, and a dock at the bottom of the screen, showing icons for the applications the user accesses the most, is presented when the device is turned on or whenever the home button is pressed. The screen has a status bar across the top to display data, such as time, battery level, and signal strength. The rest of the screen is devoted to the current application. There is no concept of starting or quitting applications, only opening an application from the home screen, and leaving the application to return to the home screen. It is possible to force an application to quit by holding down the power button until the “slide to power off” slider appears, and then holding the home button down, however. While some multitasking is permitted it is not obtrusive or obvious. However, it is limited to Apple’s own applications, a limitation that will be lifted with the introduction of OS 4.0.

Third-party applications are quit when left, but from the 3.0 software update, notifications can be pushed from Apple’s servers to the iPhone or iPod Touch. Many of the included applications were designed to work together; allowing for the sharing or cross-propagation of data from one application to another (e.g., a phone number can be selected from an email and saved as a contact or dialed for a phone call.) The iPad includes a similar interface, except that the dock is “3D” and the background is interchangeable.

Application Support

The central processing unit (CPU) used in the iPhone and iPod Touch is an ARM-based processor instead of the x86 (and previous PowerPC or MC680x0) processors used in Apple’s Macintosh computers, and it uses OpenGL ES 1.1 rendering by the PowerVR 3D graphics hardware accelerator co-processor. Mac OS X applications cannot be copied to and run on an iPhone OS device. The applications must be written and compiled specifically for the iPhone OS and the ARM architecture. The Safari web browser supports Web applications as with other web browsers. Authorized third-party native applications are available for devices running iPhone OS 2.0 and later through Apple’s App Store.

Included Applications

In version 3.0, the iPhone home screen contains these default applications: Messages (Text messaging, MMS), Calendar, Photos (with video viewer on 3GS), Camera (Video recording and auto-focus enabled in iPhone 3GS), YouTube, Stocks (Yahoo! Finance), Maps (Google Maps, with Assisted GPS on iPhone 3G and 3GS), Weather (Yahoo! Weather), Clock (with stopwatch, alarm clock and timer), Calculator (with scientific version), Voice Memos, Notes, Settings, iTunes (with access to the iTunes Music Store and iTunes Podcast Directory), App Store, Compass (iPhone 3GS), Contacts (with landscape support), and the Nike + iPod app (iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 2nd generation) that interfaces with the optional Nike + iPod sensor. Four other applications delineate the iPhone’s main purposes: Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod.

The iPod Touch retains many of the same applications that are present by default on the iPhone, with the exception of the Phone, Messages, Compass and Camera apps. The “iPod” App present on the iPhone is split into two apps on the iPod Touch: Music, and Videos. The bottom row of applications is also used to delineate the iPod Touch’s main purposes: Music, Videos, Safari, and App Store (Dock Layout was changed in 3.1 Update).

Web Applications

At the 2007 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Apple announced that the iPhone and iPod Touch would support Web applications created by third-party developers using technologies such as Ajax through the Safari web browser. Apple Inc. considers that web applications capable of providing a sufficient user experience obviate any need for jailbreaking. Additionally, they determined that making native applications other than their own were unnecessary. However, the aforementioned web applications were unsuccessful, because the JavaScript engine running in Mobile Safari was not powerful enough to run applications satisfactorily.

Unsupported Third-Party Native Applications

The iPhone and iPod Touch can only officially install full programs through the App Store. However, from version 1.0 unauthorized third-party native applications are available. Such applications face the possibility of being broken by any iPhone OS update, though Apple has stated it will not design software updates specifically to break native applications (other than applications that perform SIM unlocking). The main distribution methods for these applications are the Cydia, Icy, Rock, and Installer utilities, which can be installed on the iPhone after jailbreaking.

iPhone SDK

IPhone_SDK_-_New_Project iPhone SDK included
in Xcode 3.1 final.

On October 17, 2007, in an open letter posted to Apple’s “Hot News” weblog, Steve Jobs announced that a software development kit (SDK) would be made available to third-party developers in February 2008. The SDK was released on March 6, 2008, and allows developers to make applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as test them in an “iPhone simulator”. However, loading an application onto the devices is only possible after paying an iPhone Developer Program fee. Since the release of Xcode 3.1, Xcode is the development environment for the iPhone SDK. iPhone applications, like iPhone OS and Mac OS X, are written in Objective-C.

Developers are able to set any price above a set minimum for their applications to be distributed through the App Store, of which they will receive a 70% share. Alternately, they may opt to release the application for free and need not pay any costs to release or distribute the application except for the membership fee.

Since its release, there has been some controversy regarding the refund policy in the fine print of the Developer Agreement with Apple. According to the agreement that developers must agree to, if someone purchases an app from the app store, 30% of the price goes to Apple, and 70% to the developer. If a refund is granted to the customer (at Apple’s discretion), the 30% is returned to the customer from Apple, and 70% from the developer; however, Apple can then take another 30% of the cost from the developer to make up for Apple’s loss.

Hacking and Jailbreaking

The iPhone OS has been subject to a variety of different hacks for a variety of reasons, centered around adding functionality not supported by Apple.

With the advent of iPhone OS 2.0, the focus of the jailbreaking community has shifted somewhat. Prior to iPhone 2.0’s release, jailbreaking was the only way to allow third-party applications on the device. Now with iPhone 2.0, native applications are allowed under Apple’s SDK terms, although certain functionality is disallowed on the device. These disallowed functions include background processes, and the ability to alter the applications written for the device by Apple. Some began attempts to disable Apple’s kill switch, although these efforts were largely abandoned once the kill switch was proven to only disable Core Location.

There has been a notable shift away from jailbreaking with the new App Store’s debut, in most part due to users’ acceptance of Apple’s compromise on opening up the platform, although there has still been substantial interest from the jailbreaking community, especially with the release of PwnageTool from the “iPhone Dev Team” which was released soon after firmware 2.0 for the iPod Touch and iPhone. Some jailbreakers also attempt to pirate paid App Store applications; this new focus has caused some strife within the jailbreaking community.

The other major focus of jailbreaking since 2.0 has been to reverse the SIM Lock that is forced onto most iPhones. The first generation iPhone can be fully unlocked with the “iPhone Dev Team”‘s BootNeuter application, and the iPhone 3G can be unlocked with a new beta effort dubbed “yellowsn0w” later to become ultrasn0w to work on newer baseband as Apple patched the baseband by release 2.2.1 and QuickPwn 2.2.1.

More recently, many efforts have been focused on broadening the Bluetooth capabilities of the iPhone. However, many of the efforts stopped due to the preview of the iPhone 3.0 OS on March 17, 2009, which included among other features, enhanced Bluetooth capabilities.

Within days of the official release of OS 3.0, updated instructions and applications to jailbreak and unlock 3G iPhones running the new OS were released by the “iPhone Dev Team”.

The “iPhone Dev Team” stated that the exploits that allowed a jailbreak of the iPod Touch 2G and an unlock of the iPhone 3G will respectively allow the same capabilities on the iPhone 3GS.

On July 3, 2009 geohot released purplera1n, an application to jailbreak an iPhone 3GS running OS 3.0. The “iPhone Dev Team” subsequently released updated versions of the redsn0w jailbreak and ultrasn0w unlock for the iPhone 3GS.

The “iPhone Dev Team” released an update to their PwnageTool program on October 2, 2009, to enable the jailbreaking of OS 3.1 on the iPhone 3GS.

On October 11, 2009, GeoHot (George Hotz) released blackra1n which enabled users to jailbreak firmware versions of up to 3.1.2, among all other iDevices, the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 3G (tethered support). blackra1n supports iPhone 3GS which has 3.1.2 installed out-of-the-box. blackra1n currently does not support jailbreaking with the 3.1.3 firmware.

Digital Rights Controversy

With the release of the iPad the iPhone OS’s closed and proprietary nature has garnered criticism, particularly by digital rights advocates such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, computer engineer and activist Brewster Kahle, Internet-law specialist Jonathan Zittrain, and the Free Software Foundation who protested the iPad’s introductory event and have targeted the iPad with their “Defective by Design” campaign. Competitor Microsoft, via a PR spokesman, has also criticized Apple’s control over its platform.

At issue are restrictions imposed by the iPad’s design, namely DRM intended to lock purchased media to Apple’s platform, the development model (requiring a yearly subscription to develop for the iPad), the centralized approval process for apps, as well as Apple’s general control and lockdown of the platform itself. Particularly at issue is the ability for Apple (or any other authority that can persuade Apple) to remotely disable or delete apps, media, or data on the iPad at will.

Critics assert that the iPad represents a “thoughtfully designed, deeply cynical thing”, which may constitute a step in transforming computers from general-purpose machines into centrally-controlled media consumption devices. Moreover, many in the tech community have expressed concern that the locked-down iPad represents a growing trend in computing, particularly Apple’s shift away from machines that hobbyists can “tinker with” and note the potential for such restrictions to stifle software innovation.

However, there are some outside of Apple who have voiced support for the iPad’s closed model. Facebook developer Joe Hewitt, who had previously protested against Apple’s control over its hardware as “horrible precedent”, has subsequently argued the locked apps in the iPad are akin to Web applications and provide added security.

Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Wikipedia: iPhone OS…

Brainy Quote: Gadgets Quotes…