The original iPhone project was code-named Purple. Purple Experience Project, or PEP if you want to get fancy. The iPhone hardware had its own codenames. The typical, boring letters and numbers of all Apple hardware codenames. M68 for the original. N82 for the 3G. N88 for the 3GS. You get the idea.
But the software… the software had way more interesting code names. And like I said, I all caps love them because they’re so spycraft. So, Agent of SHIELD. And iOS had… a lot of them. A lot a lot. None were ever made public, though. Not like Steve Jobs did with OS X Jaguar for the Mac. And here's why!
iOS Code Names
The original iPhone project was code named Purple. Not Purple Rain. Purple Experience Project, or PEP if you want to get fancy. P1 was the iPod phone run by Tony Fadell. P2 was the OS X phone run by Scott Forstall. It should be beyond super wicked apparent by now which one… won.
The iPhone hardware had its own codenames. The typical, boring letters and numbers of all Apple hardware codenames. M68 for the original. N82 for the 3G. N88 for the 3GS. You get the idea.
But the software… the software had way more interesting code names. And like I said, I all caps love them because they’re so spy craft. So, Agent of SHIELD. And iOS had… a lot of them. A lot a lot. None were ever made public, though. Not like Steve Jobs did with OS X Jaguar for the Mac. And I’ll get to why in a hot minute.
iPhone OS 1.0 was Alpine for an internal firmware version, maybe even the one McGyvered together for the demo. The launch was Heavenly, though. Not in the religious sense, but in the Lake Tahoe ski resort sense. A favorite getaway of Bay Area engineer-erati, among many, many others. 1.1, which firmed up… a lot of the firmware… was Snowbird. After the Snowbird ski resort in Utah. Are you getting it yet?
I’m going to skip the point releases, like 1.1.2 Oktoberfest and 1.1.3 Little Bear, because there are so many we’d be here until… iOS 15 comes out of beta.
So, 2.0 was Big Bear, which shipped alongside the App Store, and where a lot of early frameworks were given shaves and a haircut so they’d be way, way more presentable for the public debut of UIKit proper. 2.1 was Sugar Bowl, and 2.2, Timberline.
3.0 was Kirkwood, 3.1 Northstar, and 3.2 Wildcat. That version, 3.2, was also what shipped on the original iPad. Because back then, the iPad ran… iPhoneOS.
4.0 was Apex, not as in predator, though it did kill iPhoneOS when it was renamed iOS… even though it only ran on the iPhone at first. 4.1 Baker, not as in dozen, and 4.2, released as 4.2.1 Jasper, not as in Sitwell (Hail Hydra) which finally brought unified support to the iPad. And 4.3 was Durango, not Django but also not as in Dodge. As in Purgatory… Colorado. We’re still deep in the ski resorts here.
5.0 was Telluride and 5.1, Hoodoo, not to be confused with Hodor. 6.0 was Sundance, which might have been fitting given how photorealistic design was about to be Butch Cassidy’d in a hail of gunshots if not glory. Wikipedia it. And 6.1, Brighton.
7.0 was Innsbruck, but also the great flattening, a jolt of digital authenticity and gaussian blur injected right into the OpenGL Stack by Jony Ive and Alan Dye. And if you listen close enough, you can still hear the screaming in Brooklyn. 7.1 was Sochi, because Winter Olympics.
8.0 was Okemo, and it stayed that way until 8.2 Stowe, and 8.4 Copper. Special shout out to 8.4.1 Donner, though, because its namesake, Richard, made me believe a man could fly. Rest In Peace.
9.0 was Monarch, 9.1 Boulder, 9.2 Castlerock, and 9.3 Eagle, like the Legal. 10.0 was Whitetail, 10.1 Butler, 10.2 Corry, and 10.3, Erie. And if you all get me to a million subs by the end of the year, I… probably still won’t say word one about the only ever unshipped version of iOS. But you can certainly try!
11.0 was Tigris, 11.1 Bursa 11.2 Cinar, 11.3 Emet, and 11.4 Fatsa.
And then 12.0 changed everything. At least when it came to code names. The world got dark, in mood and mode, and so Apple decided to bring a little light. At least internal. That year, WatchOS became Glory. tvOS, Hope. macOS, Liberty, and iOS… Peace.
iOS 13 stayed weird. First, by forking into iPadOS lucky number 13… for the iPad. Yup, after taking away iPhoneOS lo just nine short versions before. But also because the era of Ski Resorts was over. All the iOS and iPadOS 13 versions were Yukon, and like Peace, included B, C,D, and even enterprise E versions. F, G, as well, even H for Yukon.
Then 14 was Azul and now, the 15 seed, Sky.
So, why aren’t any of these names public like the macOS ones? Or rather, why aren’t there public marketing names in addition to the internal codenames, like macOS Monterey? Hell, like Google had tasty treat names for Android until things got Q-as-in-questioning why they didn’t realize it’d be impossible to think of a Q-as-in-dessert name way before c-as-in-cupcake?
I mean, the big cats sold themselves. Announcing Mac OS X Jaguar was fire. Especially compared to how Windows was spending their branding XP back then. And across a range of Macs that weren’t all that revolutionary but needed something to seriously set them apart from the boring OS numbers of the past?
The iPhone… was and is the bleeping iPhone. It was the revolution. It didn’t need no stinking software marketing names. And it won’t unless or until it’s old enough, and the system gets a transition big enough, for the software to become at least a co-star.