Someone recently created as a synonym for . I can understand why -- there are certainly a lot of questions tagged that should really be tagged instead. But "iphone" as a concept is not the same as "ios". iOS is the operating system that runs on at least three types of devices, iPhone being just one of those devices. If there must be a synonym relationship between the two tags, should be the master and the synonym (though I don't recommend that either).

There's value in distinguishing between the iPhone and iOS. It's not uncommon to create iOS-based applications that won't run on iPhone devices, and because iPhones have a particular set of capabilities there are software development issues related specifically to that device. Examples of such issues include accessing call history, placing telephone calls, and supporting the "Retina" display.

I note that there's an existing request to Break the [iphone-sdk] -> [iphone] synonym. It's surely the case that the distinction between and is greater than that between and , at least as is used on SO. A reasonable solution to both requests would be to break both synonyms and then make a synonym of (with as the master).

See also Tags iPhone-sdk-{version} should not be renamed iOS-sdk-{version}? for a related question.

  • 1
    This makes sense to me. How many of those [iphone] questions should actually have [ios], though?
    – Gabe
    Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 20:01
  • @Gabe Square, rectangle. There is value in having both on many questions, as they deal with both iOS and iPhone specific issues. Since this is a programming site, I suspect few iPhone questions will not fit under iOS as well, therefore the iPhone should almost always have iOS, iOS shouldn't always have iPhone, and there is value in being able to search for iPhone iOS questions as opposed to iPad iOS, iPod iOS and, eventually, Mac iOS questions. <-- Pure speculation, but hey, it really seems like they are heading down that path.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 20:08
  • @Adam: I think you're agreeing with me, right?
    – Gabe
    Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 20:13
  • @Gabe You asked a question, I answered. If it looks like my statement agrees with your views, then chances are pretty good I agree with you. ;-D
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Mar 29, 2011 at 22:28
  • 2
    Agree, this synonym is like making vb.net a synonym for .net.
    – CharlesB
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 10:52

1 Answer 1


I agree. I remember seeing that, and I think I voted against the iOS synonym.

In an ideal world, or would be used for all iOS development questions, and and would only apply for device-specific subsets of those questions. However, there's a lot of inertia behind the terminology "iPhone development" vs. "iOS development" because of where things started.

As I show in my breakdown of the tags here, clearly dominates all the others, and it has a large mass of followers. This week, 1404 questions were tagged vs. 328 for . I can see how people would want to coalesce all of the various tags used for iOS development into one, and why they'd choose , but I think that's wrong.

Setting up a synonym in the opposite direction (iPhone -> iOS) is also problematic, because if we get rid of for it might make it more difficult for people searching for iPhone development in Google to find the right answers (people don't always specify iPhone in their answer, just the tags). Also, how would we handle iPhone-device-specific questions?

I think that and should exist as distinct tags, and for now we should tag questions with both. Our goal should be to make questions and answers easy to find, even if we aren't entirely accurate with the labeling of them. If iOS becomes the dominant way that people are tagging questions like this and searching for them, we could examine ways of retagging the 68,000 legacy questions.

  • Another issue with an [iphone] -> [ios] synonym would be that iOS wasn't called that until the version 4.0: all previous versions are called iPhone OS or iPhone SDK, and there wasn't any push by Apple or otherwise to retroactively rebrand the platform iOS for version 3 and earlier. So if it's a question about iPhone OS 3 or earlier, which the majority of questions tagged [iphone] likely are, it'd be incorrect to retag them [ios].
    – user149432
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 12:48

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