iOS 4 originally appeared nearly 10 years ago as Apple’s first mobile operating system to drop 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 blast 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 offers almost flawless experience of using an iPhone from ten years ago.
OldOS is “designed to be as pixel-perfect as possible,” says Zane, the developer behind the app. It’s all built with Apple’s SwiftUI, so it features buttery smooth animations and even the old iPhone home button that vibrates with haptic feedback to make it feel like a real button.
Apple’s built-in iOS 4 apps have been recreated here as well, and it’s a real flashback to the iPhone’s skeuomorphic days when they launch. Photos lets you view your existing camera roll as you would 10 years ago, while Notes transports you back to the yellow post-it notes of yesteryear.
Today is launch day
Introducing OldOS – iOS 4 beautifully rebuilt in SwiftUI.
* Designed to be as pixel perfect as possible.
* Fully functional, maybe even usable as a second OS.
*️ Completely open source for anyone to learn, adapt and build on. pic.twitter.com/K0JOE2fEKM
– Zane (@zzanehip) June 9, 2021
The only apps that don’t work as you’d expect are Messages and YouTube. Apple used to bundle YouTube directly into its operating system, and the developer behind OldOS says there are “still some major issues with YouTube” and posts they’re trying to fix.
Everything else is largely flawless. and you can even browse the web in Safari’s old UI. The App Store also lists apps that direct you to the Modern Store to download and install. There are some things that just don’t work, including folders and no squabbling to rearrange the home screen apps.
We’ve seen this type of nostalgic app appear on the iPhone before. Rewound launched on the App Store in December 2019, turning an iPhone into an iPod. Apple quickly pulled the app a few days later, citing store violations.
This last one 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 makes an exception, so grab it while you still can. Zane has also published the source code for the whole project on GitHub, so if you’re willing to compile it into Xcode, it will live forever.