Apple has released the fifth public beta of iOS 14.5. Members of Apple’s Beta Software Program can download the previews and register devices now.
iOS 14.5 will be the biggest update to iOS 14 to date, introducing several significant new features.
App Tracking Transparency
iOS 14.5 is the update where Apple will begin requiring developers to comply with its App Tracking Transparency rules. Going forward, developers will need to ask for and receive your permission to access your random advertising identifier and track your activity across apps and websites.
Now, when you launch an app that collects your activity data or tracks you around your iDevice, you have the option of (quite rightly) disallowing that intrusion.
Companies, like Facebook, who’ve made their money off selling activity data that users unknowingly agreed to share in the legal agreements that no one ever reads are rather upset. Personally, I think it’s long overdue, as it gives users who might not have realized what they were agreeing to a chance to change their minds.
Worldwide dual SIM support
Worldwide dual SIM support is available with this release. If you have an iPhone 12 model 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.
Music and Podcasts
You can now add the Apple Music “Made for You” mixes to your library in the Music app. The Music app also now includes the exact release date for albums and tracks. And scrolling metadata for the Now Playing lock screen widget is back!
The Podcasts app gets a Music app-like redesign. Also, tapping on a podcast entry will take you to the details page for the podcast rather than start playing immediately (there’s now a dedicated smaller button for that).
Unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch
Face ID is great, but the constant mask-wearing of the COVID-19 global pandemic has exposed a 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.”
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 on speakerphone.
Type to Siri no longer pulls you out of your current location when invoked, just like it does when you’re not using the type interface. Responding to a message with Siri has the same type of upgrade, maintaining context wherever you are when it’s invoked instead of pulling you into a greyed out screen.
You can now give Siri directions as to what app you’d like to default to for certain media like podcasts and songs. This isn’t the “default apps” feature that a lot of sites reported but it’s a step in the right direction. You can also now swipe to add songs to your queue in Apple Music.
Find My app
iOS 14.5 adds a new “Items” tab in the Find My app, which would show the location of licensed item trackers and devices that use Apple’s new licensed location-tracking system, which would presumably include Apple’s own AirTags.
Map app guides in iOS 14.5 bring improved images and headers and much more polished looking content.
iOS 14.5 includes a Waze-like crowdsourcing feature for reporting accidents, hazards, and speed checks along a route in Maps when getting directions.
There’s a new “Report” button available in the Apple Maps app that lets you tap to report an accident, hazard, or speed trap at your location in the Apple Maps app, which is a feature that mapping app Waze offers. This is available directly on the iPhone and in CarPlay.
The Shortcuts app has a few new tricks to enable and disable orientation lock, change cellular modes, and take screenshots.
The new Software Update splash screen (with the current iOS version as well as notification of when you last checked for a software update) has been tweaked slightly to remove the green check.
There are 127 new emojis, for those who are into that sort of thing.
You can finally sort your reminders due date, creation date, due date, or a manual sort of your choosing in the Reminders app. You can now print reminders as well.
There’s now a dedicated search tab in the Apple News app.
Have a PS5 or XBox Series X? Now those controllers will work with your iDevice.
Apple Fitness+ now has AirPlay 2 support. You won’t see your live Apple Watch data like you do if you’re connected via an Apple TV, but it’s better than no support at all.
How to sign up for a developer account or public beta membership
If you’re interested in becoming an Apple developer, you can visit developer.apple.com and join Apple’s Developer program. To get access to app distribution and developer betas, you’ll need to enrol in the company’s £99 year developer membership.
Developers tend to get beta software first, but that software can be unstable and bug-prone. If you only want a peek at Apple’s new software, but don’t want to take the risk of bricking your device on a developer seed, the company offers the public beta program for users.
Unlike Apple’s developer program, the Beta Software Program is free, and should offer more stable code than some developer seeds. Before you dive in though, you should note that this is an incomplete version of the operating system, with all the bugs and glitches that includes.
Developers can go head to the Developer program on the device upon which they which to run the beta, and download a developer beta profile. Those who aren’t developers can join the public beta by heading here using the device upon which you wish to run the beta, signing in, and downloading the beta profile.
Once you have the profile you must enable it by going to Settings > General > Profile. Your device will reset to enable the profile. After it has reset with the profile enabled, you can head to Settings > General > Software Updates to download the latest beta release.
Users should nevertheless be cautious about installing beta code on a primary device, since it can still potentially cause issues like crashes, battery drain, or slow performance.