iOS 4 originally appeared almost 10 years ago as Apple’s first mobile operating system dropping the iPhone OS naming convention. An 18-year-old developer has now lovingly recreated iOS 4 as an iPhone app, and it’s a beautiful explosion from the past. If you’ve never had the chance to use iOS 4, or if you’re a fan of the iPhone 3G, OldOS almost flawlessly pulls off the experience of using an iPhone a decade ago.
OldOS is “designed to be as close to pixel-perfect as possible,” says Zane, the developer behind the app. It’s all built using Apple’s SwiftUI, so it includes buttery smooth animations and even the old iPhone home button that vibrates with haptic feedback to make it feel like a real button.
Today is launch day
Introduction to OldOS – iOS 4 beautifully rebuilt in SwiftUI.
* Designed to be as close to pixel-perfect as possible.
* Fully functional, maybe even usable as another operating system.
* ️ Completely open source for everyone to learn, change and build on. pic.twitter.com/K0JOE2fEKM
– Zane (@zzanehip) June 9, 2021
The only apps that do not work as you would expect are Messages and YouTube. Apple used to put YouTube directly into its operating system, and the developer behind OldOS says that “there are still some major issues with YouTube” and announcements that they are working to fix.
Everything else is mostly flawless. and you can even surf the web in the old Safari user interface. The App Store also shows apps that redirect you to the modern store to download and install. There are some things that simply do not work, including folders and no giggle to rearrange apps on the home screen.
We’ve seen this type of nostalgic app appear on the iPhone before. Rewound was launched in the App Store back in December 2019, turning an iPhone into an iPod. Apple quickly pulled the app a few days later citing violations of the store.
This latest OldOS app is available on Apple’s TestFlight service, which is typically used to distribute beta versions of apps. That means it probably won’t be long before Apple takes the exception, so take it while you can. Zane has also published the source code for the entire project on GitHub, so if you are willing to compile it in Xcode, it will live forever.