I've heard that the IOS version actually REMOVED some things from the original game, which are still missing from the steam version. Can anyone confirm either?
Yes and no. The IOS version did drop certain aspects of the game. But it was more of an issue of streamlining the game as oppose to cutting content or "dumbing down" the game. The most notable issue that I can think of was that in the original game you could choose which crops were planted in your fields. There were sliders and you could balance the percentage between wheat, barley and rye. All just produced "food" but wheat cropland produced higher yields but was more susceptible to crop failure in bad years. Barley was less productive and still somewhat susceptible to bad harvest but gave a small morale bonus (due to beer production). Lastly rye was the least productive but was the most reliable.
In the current game this is not a factor and you just plant cropland without diversifying it yourself. This may seem like they removed a really cool feature of the game, but in the end I think it was a good call. First of all it played very little role in the game. It was hard to come up with a better ratio then the default ratio that game started with, and even if you had a slightly different preference you set it once at the start of the game and never really touched it again. So even though it was a neat feature that gave the game a little flavor it did not add much to gameplay and past it gave new players who did not understand the mechanic a great way to shot themselves in the foot. This game is HARD as it is and I think that the developers removed this mechanic from the game because it added very little and just made the game harder to approach by new players.
The mechanic of how livestock could be slaughtered for food in emergencies also changed but again the scenario is almost identical. A mechanic was in place that gave the player the illusion of choice. But in the end there was only one "right" way to do it. So all you really did was give the player an opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot.
Long story short, yes some simple game mechanics have been removed, but the benefits of more streamlined gameplay coupled with a lot more story content (which is where the game shines) it is a big improvement. I don't think you will find many people who argue that the PC version is superior to the IOS version. Other than the PC version is cheaper and is not a touch interface.
In the end this is a very unique game. I would just get the PC version because it is cheaper and if you don't like it that is less money wasted. But if you find yourself falling in love with it consider the new version an "expansion" and pick it up later. That is what I did.