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Apple's secret iOS code names inspired by ski resorts

Though iOS code names are not advertised by Apple, the company still internally uses a series of secret names for each new build of its mobile operating system.

Unlike with new builds of Mac OS X, where Apple makes the software's code name part of its branding, the company sticks with a numeric approach for new iOS builds. But internally, the company has used a series of ski resorts across North America to identify each version of iOS.

The full list of iOS names was recently publicized by TiPb after developer Steve Troughton-Smith brought attention to the code names on Twitter. They begin with the first version of iOS in 2007, when version 1.0 was known as "Alpine," in reference to California's Alpine Meadows.

iOS 2.0 is internally known as "Big Bear," recalling Big Bear Lake, Calif. Another California resort, Kirkwood Mountain, also inspired the codename for iOS 3.0.

The iPad-only iOS 3.2 release came to the east coast to find a resort to inspire its "Wildcat" name, referencing a mountain in New Hampshire. And Apple went across the border, to British Columbia, Canada, for iOS 4.0 "Apex," named for the Apex Mountain Resort.

The latest major release of iOS, version 5.0, carries the codename "Telluride," taken from a ski resort in Colorado. Even Apple's next operating system release, iOS 5.1, has a codename: "Hoodoo." The secret title for iOS 5.1, currently in beta, is inspired by an Oregon ski resort.

Version 1.0 of iOS was given the code name "Alpine."

The full list of iOS code names so far is:

  • 1.0: Alpine
  • 1.1: Little Bear
  • 2.0: Big Bear
  • 2.1: Sugarbowl
  • 2.2: Timberline
  • 3.0: Kirkwood
  • 3.1: Northstar
  • 3.2: Wildcat
  • 4.0: Apex
  • 4.1: Baker
  • 4.2: Jasper
  • 4.3: Durango
  • 5.0: Telluride
  • 5.1: Hoodoo

Code names were originally used only internally for builds of Mac OS X 10.0 and up, with the first version known as "Cheetah." Eventually the cat-themed code names became part of the product branding, including this year's release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.

Apple's main competition in the mobile operating system space, Google's Android platform, is also publicly promoted with its code names. New Android builds, including version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and 3.0 Honeycomb, are named after desserts by Google.