Apple has officially released OS 14.5, bringing the ability to unlock iPhone with Apple Watch while wearing a face mask, more diverse Siri voices, new privacy controls, skin tone options to better represent couples in emoji, and much more.
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
Users can now use their Apple Watch to securely unlock iPhone when attempting to use Face ID while wearing a face mask. With Apple Watch on the wrist, unlocked, and in close proximity to iPhone, users can simply glance at their iPhone and they will receive haptic feedback from Apple Watch, indicating their iPhone has been unlocked.
You will need to make sure your Apple Watch is on your wrist and authenticated for the unlocking process to work, and the first time you use it, you do need to enter your passcode. If you take off your watch and it locks, you need to enter your passcode again.
There is a proximity function, so it will not unlock if your iPhone is not near your watch, and your full face can’t be covered. There’s still a partial Face ID scan included that looks for your eyes.
While an unlocked Apple Watch can be used alongside Face ID to unlock an iPhone without a passcode, it cannot be used to authenticate Apple Pay or App Store purchases, nor bypass Face ID locks in apps. These will still require a full Face ID scan or passcode.
The new feature works with iPhone X and later and Apple Watch Series 3 and later and Apple Watch must be running watchOS 7.4 or later – and needs to be enabled in the Settings app by going to Face ID & Passcode and toggling on “Unlock with Apple Watch.”
With iOS 14.5, Siri no longer has a default voice, allowing users to choose the voice that speaks to them when they first set up their device, and in English, users can now select more diverse voice options. These new Siri voices use Neural Text to Speech technology for an incredibly natural sound. The “Siri & Search” portion of the Settings app has an upgraded “Siri Voice” option, the “Accent” label has been changed to “Variety,” and there’s no longer a “Gender” selection due to the addition of extra voices.
Siri also gains new capabilities with support for Group FaceTime, making it easier to initiate calls with multiple contacts or ask Siri to FaceTime the name of any group in Messages.
In addition to incoming messages, Siri can now announce incoming calls through AirPods or compatible Beats headphones, and supports calling emergency contacts if the iPhone owner needs assistance and is unable to make a call.
In iOS 14.5, there is an option to select a preferred streaming service to use when asking Siri to play songs, which Siri will use whenever you make a request to play music, a podcast, or an audiobook.
The first time that you ask Siri to play something after installing the update, you’ll see an option to choose from a list of third-party audio services in addition to the built-in Apple apps like Apple Music and Apple Podcasts.
After you select an app, Siri will remember to select that service whenever you ask the personal assistant to play a song.
It should be highlighted that this is not a “default” music setting and there is no toggle to select a service you want to continually use, but it is a feature where Siri will learn your preferences and adapt to them. Since there is no toggle, Siri will occasionally re-ask for your preferred services to keep up to date.
More Privacy Controls
App Tracking Transparency requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers.
Apps can prompt users for permission, and in Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes to their choice at any time.
What this means is developers are now required to ask for and receive your permission before an app access your random advertising identifier, which is used to track your activity across apps and websites.
Apple has already implemented the framework for App Tracking Transparency, so these popups are going to appear more frequently in earlier versions of iOS 14. iOS 14.5 marks the wide adoption of Apple’s iOS 14 anti-tracking functionality.
Developers are also required now not track you in other ways to skirt the preferences that you select for anti-tracking, so if you choose not to allow an app to track you with a random advertising identifier, that app is not allowed to use non-Apple sanctioned tools to get around the rules.
5G improvements for iPhone 12 models include Dual SIM support for 5G connectivity and Smart Data Mode enhancements to further optimize the experience on the network, including better battery life and data usage.
Prior to iOS 14.5, Dual-SIM mode was limited to LTE in all countries except for China, but iOS 14.5 will allow Dual-SIM users worldwide to get 5G speeds on both lines for the first time.
5G international roaming has also been enabled for supported carriers on iPhone 12 models.
Report an Incident in Apple Maps
Maps users in the US and China can now safely and easily report an accident, hazard, or speed check along their route by telling Siri on iPhone or CarPlay. During navigation, users can let Siri know “There’s a crash up ahead” or “There’s something on the road,” or even report that incidents displayed on the map have been cleared.
Incidents can also be reported or cleared by passengers using “Report an Issue” in Maps. In addition, Maps users can now share their ETA when walking or cycling to let friends and family know what time they might arrive.
CarPlay users can initiate the Share ETA feature using new Siri or keyboard controls.
Apple Music brings a much improved usage experience. There are new slide gestures for adding a song to the Now Playing queue or adding it to the Apple Music Library. When long pressing on a song, there are also new options to “Play Last” and “Show Album.”
In the Library, the download button has been replaced by three dots that can be tapped to access a whole range of options for a song. The actions are the same as the actions that are available when long pressing on a song title anywhere in the Music app.
There’s also a new “Share Lyrics” feature that lets you send lyrics and song clips to others. Just long press on any lyric when viewing the real-time lyrics of a song to bring up a share interface. This is not available for all songs that support lyrics.
The lyric sharing option supports Instagram Stories and iMessage cards. If you send a song lyric using iMessages, the specific part of the song plays in the Messages app. For some albums, the recording label information is more prominently displayed, with an option to tap it to find more albums from the label.
There’s a new “City Charts” feature that offers users access to playlists featuring the most played songs in more than 100 cities around the world.
Apple Podcasts gets redesigned show pages to make it easier to start listening, as well as an option to save and download episodes so they are automatically added to Library for quick access. Top Charts, categories, and curated collections on the Search tab help listeners discover new shows.
Podcasts under “Shows” are now more prominently listed with episode descriptions and an easier access “Resume” button, plus the Search tab lets you browse through different categories to find what you’re looking for.
Apple is also removing the “Subscribe” language from the Podcasts app in iOS 14.5, replacing it with “Follow” options now that Apple has introduced a paid Podcast service.
There is an option to save and download podcast episodes, automatically adding them to the Library for quick access, and download and notification settings can be customized on a show-by-show basis.
iOS 14.5 introduces support for Apple’s newly released AirTag, allowing them to be tracked within the Find My app.
AirTags have a lost mode, can be tracked via sound, and can be found through the Find My network by utilizing the iPhones, iPads, and Macs of people who are nearby a lost item.
Apple News features a redesigned News+ tab, making it easier for subscribers to quickly find, download, and manage magazine and newspaper issues, and an all-new Search experience helps all Apple News users find relevant topics, channels, and stories.
iOS 14.5 enables AirPlay 2 support for Apple Fitness+, allowing Apple Fitness+ subscribers to AirPlay their workouts to a compatible AirPlay 2-enabled smart TV or set-top box.
ETA for Walking/Cycling Directions
When getting directions for a walking or cycling route, there’s now an option to send an Estimated Time of Arrival to someone through the Messages app. This can be done by tapping on the route card at the bottom of the screen or through Siri request.
Reminders adds the ability to sort by title, priority, due date, or creation date, and offers the option to print reminder lists. Apple has also fixed a bug that could cause some Reminders created through Siri to be set for early morning hours.
Safer Safe Browsing
In iOS 14.5 Apple is proxying Google’s Safe Browsing feature through its own servers in an effort to limit that personal data that Google is able to collect from users.
In Safari, the Fraudulent Website Warning feature is designed to warn users if they’re visiting a suspected phishing website that’s attempting to steal user data. To power this feature, Apple uses Google’s “Safe Browsing” database, which can allow Google to collect IP addresses.
By proxying the Safe Browsing feature through its own servers, Apple can limit the data that Google sees.
Zero-Click Attack Prevention
iOS 14.5 includes extended PAC security provisions that are designed to make zero-click attacks more difficult to execute. With zero-click attacks, hackers are able to break into a target device without victim interaction, such as clicking a link, which makes them harder for users to detect.
There’s a new Shortcut action for taking a screenshot that can be incorporated into various shortcuts, plus new actions for locking the orientation of the iPhone and switching between cellular data modes.
With the Voice & Data mode action, there are options to select 5G, 5G Auto, and 4G network options.
When using Apple’s translate app, you can now adjust playback speed by long pressing on the play button when listening to a translation out loud.
Voice Control for Accessibility
Voice Control for Accessibility gives users comprehensive navigation with just their voice, and is now expanding English support to Australia and Canada and adding support for Spanish in Mexico, Spain, and the United States.
Expanded Controller Support
With iOS 14.5, you can now use the latest PlayStation 5 DualSense and Xbox Series X controllers with the iPhone and the iPad. The new controllers also connect to the Apple TV with the tvOS 14.5 update.
iOS 14.5 introduces an update for the couple kissing emoji and couple with heart emoji with the ability to select different skin tones. Additional emoji include characters for face exhaling, face with spiral eyes, face in clouds, hearts on fire, mending heart, and woman with a beard, among others.
In addition to everything else, iOS 14.5 brings a wealth of bug fixes:
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
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
iOS 14.5 is available as a free software update starting today for iPhone 6s and later. If you don’t receive an automatic update notification, you can trigger the update manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update.