iOS has evolved in amazing ways over the years, and I want to look back at the major end-user features that made a big difference in the ways we work and play. Of course, the App Store is arguably the 800-pound gorilla, so I want to cover the others, some of which we might take for granted these days.

Below is my list in no particular order, including suggestions from a few friends.

  • Multitasking
  • Copy and paste
  • Accelerometer/gyroscope
  • Notification Center and Today page
  • Control Center
  • Share Sheet (and it’s underlying system for moving data between apps)
  • Split View/Slide Over
  • AirPlay
  • Folders

Additions

Matt Bischoff:

  • Siri
  • Touch ID for Authentication
  • Push Notifications
  • Apple Pay (both in apps and in the real world)
  • iMessage
  • Spotlight (iOS 3)

Fraser Speirs:

  • Document Providers
  • iCloud Photo Library
  • App Sandboxing
  • iCloud backup
  • Replying inside a notification

Bryan Irace

  • 3D Touch, Peek, Pop, especially for homescreen shortcuts
  • Easy location sharing/Find My Friends
  • Find My iPhone
  • Family Sharing (Even though this hasn’t really taken off, I think “Find Someone Else’s iPhone” is a big deal)
  • Safari View Controller and shared web credentials
  • Smart App Banners. I was on the fence about this one. But now that iOS 9 supports the next feature listed here, they’re much more useful.
  • Universal Links. With these, app banners can now take you from a web resource in Safari to that same resource in the site’s corresponding app

Runners-Up for Relieving Pain

Some features were big not because they Changed Everything™, but because they removed a bottleneck or significant source of pain. I’ll toast to these as well:

  • Do Not Disturb
  • clear multiple notifications
  • Setup Assistant (cutting iTunes cable)
  • Custom wallpaper, small change but huge impact
  • Low power mode
You May Also Like

‪I’m sad to see Apple being forced into the fray of exclusive podcasts

Opportunistic podcast startups began dismantling the medium with exclusive shows and malicious practices. Now, Spotify and even Apple are playing this potentially destructive game.

iOS 14: How to create your own widget stacks

Apple’s widget stack is cool. Know what’s cooler? Creating your own stacks from any apps.

iOS 14: Assign reminders to people on shared lists

A small detail but a big change.

Google killed brevity in YouTube videos, and we helped

The length of YouTube videos has exploded across every genre—essays, how-tos, reviews,…