A Guide to the iPhone OS: Basic Functions

A Guide to the iPhone OS: Basic Functions
Page content

What is the iPhone OS?

The iPhone OS is an operating system designed by Apple for their iPhone series of devices. The iPhone OS is now referred to as “iOS” and has been since release 4 of the iOS. iOS was originally designed for iPhone and was later deployed on the iPod Touch and the iPad as well.

The iOS interface is entirely touch based with gesture and multi-touch support. iOS is designed with simplicity in mind. Text and images are easy to manipulate, clearly displayed and always easily accessible from the iOS. Using the iOS is incredibly simple although the iOS contains plenty of hidden potential.

iPhone OS: The Basics

Upon starting your phone for the first time after the activation process, you will be prompted with the “Slide to Unlock” screen. The “Slide

iPhone OS: Slide to Unlock

to Unlock” screen is the first introduction to the iPhone OS’s gesture based operating structure.

  • Use your finger to touch the slider and drag it towards the right of the screen. The iPhone will unlock.

After the “Slide to Unlock” screen the iPhone OS will present you will a list of applications. Applications are represented by icons laid out on the iPhone home screen.

  • The iPhone home screen is divided into pages. Slide your finger across the page to the left and right to change pages. Sliding your finger from the left of the page to the right will take you to the “Search” page.

You will notice the many default applications that come pre-installed on the iPhone such as the Calendar, Calculator, Stocks, Weather, Mail, Clock, Maps and several others. These applications can all be opened by simply tapping the icon that represents the application.

iPhone: Home Screen

  • To exit an application, press the home button. The home button is the circular button located just below the screen on the front of the iPhone. Think of the home button as an escape key, it will exit any program on the iPhone.

The iPhone OS displays important information at the top of the iPhone screen. Look just above where all the icons are located to find this information.

  • At the top of the screen the iPhone displays the Carrier Name, Signal Strength, Wi-Fi Strength, Time and Battery meter.

At the very bottom of the screen the iPhone OS has a small section of four icons reserved. This section is known as the “Dock”. Icons inside the dock do not move when pages are changed. These icons are meant to be used as quick shortcuts.

  • Tap and hold down on any icon to initiate the icon re-arrange mode. The icons will all begin to wiggle. Drag the icons around as you please including those in the dock. Press the home button when you are finished rearranging the icons.

iPhone OS: Phone Functions

The iPhone OS has a large number of built-in functions which make the iPhone an ideal phone. The most important of these functions include SMS messaging and basic phone calls. More advanced functions include e-mail, weather, alarm clock, GPS maps and


MMS messaging.

Access the phone functionality by tapping the Phone icon located in the Dock.

  • Dial numbers using the touch-based dial pad.
  • Select the contacts tab at the bottom to browse, call or text contacts.
  • Select voicemail to listen to visual voicemail (if supported by your network operator).

SMS and MMS functions are very similar and can be accessed from the Messaging icon. Depending on your version of the iPhone OS this icon may read SMS.

  • Select a number to text.
  • Tap inside the text area to bring up the on-screen keyboard.

GPS is activated using the included Google Maps application. Launch this application from the home screen by selecting maps.

  • Tap the locate icon in the bottom left to bring up the GPS. Your location will be represented by a blue pulsing dot.
  • Type a location the Search bar to find a specific address.
  • Tap the address name to bring up the menu for that address. Turn by Turn directions can be found here.

E-mail, weather and alarm clock are all fairly self explanatory. The icons for these applications can be found on the home screen.

iPhone OS: Settings & Other Functions

The iPhone OS does come with a certain level of customization. In addition the iPhone OS is capable of more advanced functions on the iPhone such as full web browsing and YouTube video playback.

iPhone OS: Settings

Open the Settings section of the iPhone by tapping the Settings icon found on the home screen. The settings section of the iPhone OS is divided into many different sections, most are self-explanatory. Some of the more important sections are listed below.

  • General - Contains the Wallpaper and Sounds settings as well as many other important settings such as About which lists the iPhone OS system information. Bluetooth settings are also found in General along with Network settings and pass code settings.
  • Wi-Fi - Contains full configuration for Wi-Fi networks.
  • Brightness - Controls the screen brightness for the iPhone and allows you to turn automatic adjustment on and off.

Access the YouTube application by click the YouTube icon found on the home screen.

iPhone OS: Safari

  • Click the search tab to search for a specific video or keyword.

The Web Browser that is built into the iPhone OS is called Safari. The Safari icon can usually be found in the Dock.

  • Safari supports gestures such as pinching your fingers together to zoom.
  • Safari supports multiple pages open at the same time.
  • Touch and hold down on an image to save it to your iPhone from the internet.
  • Tap the address bar to bring up the keyboard and navigate to a website.

iPhone OS: Additional Information

The iPhone OS (iOS) is full of different programs, settings, gestures and functions. Using the iPhone OS is

iPhone OS: AppStore

an ongoing learning experience. This guide does a nice job at covering the basics of the iPhone OS, however, it is simply not possible to cover everything about the iPhone OS in a single article or guide. Use this guide to get started with the iOS and then explore yourself using the knowledge you learned here to encounter new functions. Here are a few more tips and pieces of information to help you along the way.

Adding additional applications to the iPhone OS, both paid and free is done by using the official Apple App Store. This can be accessed by selecting the App Store icon on the home screen.

  • The first time you open the App Store you may be prompted to sign into your iTunes Account. If you do not have an iTunes account you can register one free on the internet.
  • Check the Featured tab for the latest and best applications available on the App Store.
  • Use the Search tab to find popular applications you might want such as AIM, MSN or Yahoo Messenger.

Access your photos by clicking on the Photos icon on the home screen.

  • Swipe your finger across the screen to change photos. Pinch to zoom on photos as well.

  • Tap the icon in the bottom left to Email a photo or use it as a wallpaper. You can assign photos to a contact as well.

    iPhone OS: Music Store

Many applications support landscape mode which is when you turn the screen horizontally. Open an application and rotate the phone horizontally to enter landscape mode.

  • The keyboard is larger and easy to use in landscape mode.
  • Landscape mode is better for viewing media.
  • Applications such as Calculator have a special mode when turned into landscape mode.

Updating and restoring the iPhone OS software is always done using a USB cable connected to iTunes on a Windows or Macintosh based computer.

  • The iPhone is activated using iTunes as well.
  • iTunes is free to download from the Apple website.
  • Music can be transferred to the iPhone using iTunes.
  • Music can be purchased directly on the iPhone from the “iTunes” application.