The iPod Touch runs Apple's Unix-based iOS operating system (called 'iPhone OS' until 2010) and includes bundled software to browse the Internet, view maps, send and receive email, view media, and work with office documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Users type on a virtual keyboard displayed on the screen. Apple operates an online store, allowing users to buy and directly download music, videos and third-party software. From launch, the iPod Touch was described by journalists as an 'iPhone without the phone', and each iPod Touch model to date has been introduced with the same release number of iOS as the contemporary iPhone model.
Successive updates to iOS since the initial release in 2007 have released additional features. iPhone OS 2.0, released on July 11, 2008, introduced the App Store, which allowed third-party applications for the first time. iPhone OS 3.0, released on June 17, 2009, added features such as cut, copy, and paste, data tethering and push notification support. iOS 4.0, released on June 21, 2010, introduced iBooks, FaceTime, and multitasking. It dropped support for the first generation iPod Touch.
In June 2011, iOS 5, the fifth major release of iOS software, was announced at Apple's WWDC 2011, which added notification, messaging and reminder features. Apple limited some features, most notably the voice control system Siri, to the iPhone. iOS 6, which was released on September 19, 2012 to the fourth and fifth generation iPod Touch models, contains 200 new features including Passbook, Facebook integration and Apple Maps. The fifth generation iPod Touch gained the ability to take panoramic photos, a feature shared with the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.
On June 8, 2015, it was announced at the WWDC that the iPod Touch fifth generation would support iOS 9, along with other A5 devices. This makes the iPod Touch fifth generation the first iPod Touch to support four major versions of iOS.
Recent iOS updates have been free for owners of supported iPod Touch models, but Apple received criticism for charging iPod Touch owners for versions 2.0 and 3.0, which iPhone owners received for free, and for excluding certain features from the iPod Touch software that the iPhone included. Apple's position was that they could add features for free to the iPhone because the revenue from it is accounted for on a subscription basis under accounting rules, rather than as a one time payment. At WWDC in June 2010, as of iOS 4, Steve Jobs announced that Apple had "found a way" to make subsequent OS upgrades available free to iPod Touch owners.
To purchase content on the iPod Touch, the user must create an Apple ID or have an existing account. With this account one may download music and videos from the iTunes Store, apps from the App Store, or books from the iBook store. An Apple ID account created without a credit card can be used to get free content, and gift cards can be bought to pay for apps instead of using credit cards. This is convenient for users who want to purchase an app, song, video, or E-book, but do not have a credit card.
The only official way to obtain third-party applications for the iPod Touch is Apple's App Store, which is a branch of iTunes Store. The App Store application, available in all versions of iOS from 2.0 onwards, allows users to browse and download applications from a single online repository (hosted by Apple) with the iTunes Store. To develop such software, a software development kit (SDK) was officially announced on March 6, 2008, at an Apple Town Hall meeting. The iOS SDK allows making applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch after paying a fee to join the development team. The developer can then set the price for the applications they develop and will receive 70% of money earned. Apple retains 30% of the sale price with no minimum fixed fee.