Apple has finally released iOS 14.5 after a protracted beta testing period. This is one of the bigger point-release updates we’ve seen, adding the ability to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch, AirTags support, AirPlay support for Fitness+, and the long-awaited App Tracking Transparency feature.
Apple released the first developer beta on February 1, but the public beta did not follow immediately after (as it often does), instead landing on February 4 after a second build for developers. The final release to the general public didn’t follow until April 26. Here are all the major new features of the update.
Update 04/26/2021: Apple has released iOS 14.5. But the iOS 14 branch isn’t done yet! The company is already beta-testing iOS 14.6.
What’s new in iOS 14.5
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
Face ID is great, but the constant mask-wearing of the COVID-19 global pandemic has exposed an obvious flaw—it doesn’t work when half your face is covered up. With iOS 14.5 (and watchOS 7.4), you have the option to make your iPhone work like your Mac does, and automatically unlock when you’re wearing an unlocked Apple Watch.
To use this feature, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and enable the Unlock with Apple Watch toggle. You’ll have to be wearing your Apple Watch which must be unlocked and protected with a passcode. Then, when Face ID sees you’re wearing a mask, it will unlock with your Apple Watch. You’ll feel a quick double-tap on the watch haptics and see a message on your iPhone screen that says “Unlocking with Apple Watch.” It all happens quickly and seamlessly. Where was this feature in the summer of 2020?
Support for AirTag
If you want to use Apple’s new $29 AirTag tracking devices, you need to update your iPhone or iPod Touch to iOS 14.5. (Or use an iPad updated to iPadOS 14.5.)
New Siri voices
As part of its ongoing commitment to diversity, Apple will no longer default Siri to the usual female voice. Instead, users will be prompted to select one of Siri’s voices during setup. Apple has created two new American English voices as well, for a total of four. You can change your Siri voice at any time by going to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri Voice. Prior to iOS 14.5 beta 6, the options for American English were Male and Female. You now have Voice 1, Voice 2, Voice 3, and Voice 4.
App Tracking Transparency
This version of iOS will lay the groundwork for Apple’s long-advertised App Tracking Transparency feature. Simply put, your iPhone will now require applications to ask for permission (through a standard iOS prompt) whenever they want to track your activities outside the app, such as across other apps or websites. Most users are unaware that many apps even do this. Apple is not blocking the practice, merely requiring informed consent just as it does for, say, location access.
The requirement goes into effect on April 26, but it make take a few days for some apps to be updated to adhere to the new requirements.
Music app changes
The Music app gets a lot of small design changes, including the ability to swipe left or right on tracks to add tracks to them to the current song list, download, or add to your library. There are new popover menus all over the place, and you have the ability to long-press on the real-time lyrics to share them over social media (like Instagram stories) or via iMessage.
A new City Charts feature showcases what’s hot in over 100 cities from throughout the world.
New Shortcut actions
The Shortcuts app gains the ability to enable or disable orientation lock, change cellular modes, and take screenshots.
Apple added a bunch of new Emojis back in iOS 14.2, but there are over 200 introduced in iOS 14.5. They come from the Emoji version 13.1 list approved by the Unicode consortium last year. Most of the 200 emojis are various combinations of skin tones and gender for “couple with heart” and “kiss” emojis, just a little late for Valentine’s Day.
There are some new ones, too, like “face exhaling” and “heart on fire.” Some existing emojis are redesigned, like the syringe (with less frightening blood) and headphones (which now resemble AirPods Max).
Crash reporting and speed traps in Apple Maps
Long a feature of Google Maps and Waze, Apple Maps users in iOS 14.5 will be able to share crash reports, road hazards, and speed traps in real-time to help navigate around traffic. It’s unclear how the system will work, but presumably, Apple will collect all of the data and offer alternative routes when things get backed up.
AirPlay 2 support for Fitness+
One of the biggest setbacks of Apple’s new fitness subscription service is that you can only use it on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. You can’t use it on a Mac or any other smart TV. With iOS 14.5, you can stream workouts from your iPhone or iPad to an AirPlay 2 supported device, which is a huge improvement. There are lots of TVs that support AirPlay 2 these days, so this makes the service a lot less restrictive. You won’t see your real-time metrics on screen, but that’s a relatively small price to pay.
5G Global dual-sim support
If you have an iPhone 12 and make use of dual-sim mode, both connections will be limited to 4G LTE (except in mainland China, where the SIM used for data will support 5G). In iOS 14.5, 5G is now supported on the data connection when you use dual-SIM mode.
Podcast and News app design tweaks
The Podcast and Apple News apps have had a few small but welcome tweaks to their design.
”Hey Siri, Call Emergency”
A new Siri capability allows you to request Siri call emergency services. You’ll get a big three-second countdown on the screen to cancel the request, after which Siri will call your local emergency services number (e.g. 911 in the United States) on speakerphone.
Updated game controller support
You can finally sync your Xbox Series X/S or PlayStation 5 game controller to your iPhone or iPad.
Sorting and printing Reminders
Reminders lists can finally be sorted with a variety of criteria: Manual (the default), Due Date, Creation Date, Priority, or Title. You can print Reminders lists now, too.
These features seem like they should have been there years ago.
iPad: Horizontal boot and emoji search
The iPad has a couple features exclusive to it. There’s now a horizontal Apple logo when you reboot your iPad in horizontal orientation. More importantly, emoji search (which came to the iPhone in the initial iOS 14 release) is now available on iPad as well.
Battery Health recalibration for iPhone 11 models
Users with an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max may find that their battery health reporting system will go through a recalibration once updated to iOS 14.5. Apple has a support page detailing the feature. In short, users with those phones may have had a wrong estimate of their battery health, which could potentially cause unexpected battery drain or reduced peak performance. With iOS 14.5, Apple includes code that will re-calibrate the battery health for those iPhones and give a more accurate picture of battery health.
The recalibration is automatic for users with those phones, and while it is taking place you’ll see a message in Settings > Battery > Battery Health.
Your battery health reporting system is recalibrating Maximum Capacity and Peak Performance Capability. This process may take a few weeks.
How to get iOS 14.5
Updating your iPhone to iOS 14.5 (or iPad to iPadOS 14.5) is simple. Just open the Settings app and tap on General and then Software Updates to download the latest release. It can take up to a few hours to become available everywhere around the globe, so don’t be alarmed if it’s not there right at 10am on April 26.
If it’s already more than a day after release and you still don’t see it, try powering your phone down by holding the side button and volume up button for a few seconds, then sliding the “Slide to Power off” control. After a few second, press and hold the side button for a few second to turn your iPhone or iPad back on, and check for the update again.
iOS 14.5 release notes
The full release notes for iOS 14.5 are as follows:
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
Ability to unlock your iPhone X and later with Apple Watch Series 3 and later when you attempt to use Face ID while wearing a face mask
AirTag and Find My
Support for AirTag to keep track of and find your important items like your keys, wallet, backpack and more, privately and securely in the Find My app
Precision Finding uses visual, audible, and haptic feedback to guide you directly to your nearby AirTag using Ultra Wideband provided by the U1 chip on iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models
AirTag can be located by playing a sound via the built-in speaker
The Find My network with hundreds of millions of devices can help you find your AirTag, even when it isn’t nearby
Lost Mode notifies you when your AirTag is found, and you can enter a phone number where you can be contacted
Support for separate skin tones for each individual in all variations of the couple kissing emoji and couple with heart emoji
New face emojis, heart emojis, woman with a beard emoji
Siri now includes more diverse voice options
Incoming calls can be announced with Siri, including who is calling, when you’re wearing your AirPods or compatible Beats headphones, and you can answer hands-free
Group FaceTime calls are supported by asking Siri to FaceTime a list of contacts or a group name from Messages
Emergency contacts can be called by asking Siri
App Tracking Transparency lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers
Share your favorite lyrics using Messages, Facebook, and Instagram Stories, and subscribers can play the snippet in Messages without leaving the conversation
City charts showcase what’s popular in over 100 cities from all over the world
Podcasts Show Pages are redesigned to make it easier to start listening
Option to save and download episodes, automatically adding them to your Library for quick access
Download behavior and notification settings can be customized on a show-by-show basis
Top Charts and popular categories in Search help you discover new shows
Dual SIM support enables 5G connectivity on the line that’s using cellular data on iPhone 12 models
Smart Data Mode improvements further optimize your experience on 5G networks for better battery life and data usage on iPhone 12 models
5G international roaming enabled on supported carriers on iPhone 12 models
Redesigned News+ tab enables Apple News+ subscribers to quickly find, download, and manage magazine and newspaper issues
All-new Search experience that helps you find relevant topics, channels, and stories
Accidents, hazards, or speed checks along your route can be reported by telling Siri on your iPhone or on CarPlay
Estimated time of arrival (ETA) can be shared when cycling or walking, in addition to driving, by asking Siri or tapping on the route card at the bottom of the screen, then tapping Share ETA
Ability to sort reminders by Title, Priority, Due Date, or Creation date
Option to print your reminder lists
Translation playback speed can be adjusted by long pressing the play button
Xbox Series X S Wireless Controller or Sony PS5 DualSense Wireless Controller support
Ability to stream audio and video content from Apple Fitness+ workouts to AirPlay 2-enabled TVs and devices
ETA in Apple Maps can be easily shared while driving with new Siri or keyboard controls in CarPlay
This release also fixes the following issues:
Messages at the bottom of the thread may be hidden by the keyboard under certain circumstances
Deleted messages may still appear in Spotlight search
Messages may persistently fail to send texts in some threads
Mail would not load new emails for some users until restarting the device
Call blocking and identification section may not appear in Phone settings
iCloud Tabs may not appear in Safari
iCloud Keychain could be prevented from turning off
Reminders created via Siri may be unintentionally set for early morning hours
Battery health reporting system will recalibrate maximum battery capacity and peak performance capability on iPhone 11 models to address inaccurate estimates of battery health reporting for some users (https://support.apple.com/HT212247)
Optimization to reduce the appearance of a dim glow that may appear at reduced brightness levels with black backgrounds on iPhone 12 models
AirPods audio routing to incorrect device for Automatic Switching
AirPods Automatic Switching notifications might be missing or duplicated