Apple today seeded the first betas of upcoming iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 updates, and while the new software serves as a deadline for when app developers must comply with App Tracking Transparency rules, there are also a handful of other changes worth noting.
Apple Watch iPhone Unlocking
With iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, Apple is making it easier to unlock an iPhone when you’re wearing a mask. There’s a new “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature that allows the iPhone to use an unlocked and authenticated Apple Watch as a secondary authentication method.
That means you do not have to take off your mask or enter a passcode to unlock your iPhone when this feature is enabled. It requires both an iPhone running iOS 14.5 and an Apple Watch running watchOS 7.4 and it must be enabled in the Settings app by going to Face ID & Passcode and toggling on “Unlock with Apple Watch.”
An unlocked Apple Watch can be paired with Face ID to unlock your iPhone without having to enter a passcode, but it cannot be used to authenticate Apple Pay or App Store purchases. These will still require the full Face ID facial scan or a passcode.
Dual-SIM 5G Support
The Dual-SIM feature on the iPhone 12 allows for two lines of service on a single iPhone, useful for traveling or keeping separate work and home numbers. 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 to get 5G speeds on both lines.
T-Mobile Standalone 5G Network Support
According to Reddit, iOS 14.5 also introduces support for T-Mobile’s standalone 5G network. Standalone 5G support allows a direct connection to a 5G network without the need for piggybacking on an LTE network, which allows for better 5G range and lower latency in some situations.
Apple Maps Crowdsourcing for Accidents
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.
New Emoji Characters
As highlighted by Emojipedia, iOS 14.5 introduces several new emoji characters including heart on fire, mending heart, exhaling face, face with spiral eyes, face in clouds, along with different gender options for people with beards. There are also new couple emojis that have new skin tone mixes.
Apple has removed the blood from the syringe emoji to give it a more neutral look that also works for vaccinations. The Headphone emoji has been updated to look like the AirPods Max rather than a generic set of headphones, and the rock climbing emoji now includes a helmet.
Setting Default Music Streaming Service
With iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, there’s a new feature that lets you choose a default streaming music service to use when asking Siri to play songs. When you ask Siri to play a song in iOS 14.5, you’re provided with an option to choose from a list of third-party music streaming services in addition to the Apple Music app.
After you select an app, Siri will default to that service whenever you ask Siri to play a song. So, for example, if you set Spotify as the default and then ask Siri to play a song, you will not need to specify “on Spotify” to prevent the track from defaulting to Apple Music.
There are new slide gestures in Apple Music 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.
AirPlay 2 for Fitness+
iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and watchOS 7.4 enable 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.
Workouts can be displayed on a bigger screen with this feature, but unfortunately, Apple Watch metrics are not able to be displayed on the TV when AirPlaying a workout from an iPhone or iPad. Activity rings, workout time remaining, calories, burned, set length, and burn bars will not show up on the TV set and will instead need to be viewed on the connected iPhone or iPad.
Expanded Controller Support
With iOS and iPadOS 14.5, you can now use the latest PlayStation 5 DualSense and Xbox Series X controllers with the iPhone and the iPad. It’s also likely that the Apple TV supports the new controllers with the tvOS 14.5 update.
Apple Card Family Support
The main Apple Card account holder will be able to invite family members to use the Apple Card account, with family spending available for viewing in the Wallet app. Account holders will be able to set spending limits so all family members, including children, can use the card.
Though the code is in the update, the Apple Card family sharing feature does not appear to be live for Apple Card holders as of yet.
Siri Emergency Calls
According to Rene Ritchie, iOS 14.5 has a feature that allows Siri to call emergency services with a “Hey Siri, call emergency” command. This appears to also work in earlier versions of iOS, so it may be a server-side change.
When attaching or detaching one of Apple’s MagSafe Wallets to an iPhone 12 model, there’s a stronger and more noticeable haptic vibration.
App Tracking Transparency
When iOS 14.5 is released, developers will need to ask for and receive a user’s permission to access their random advertising identifier, which is used to track activity across apps and websites.
You’re probably already familiar with these upcoming changes because Facebook has been making a big stink about them, but with this beta, you should see more apps start to comply with Apple’s rules, presenting a popup that lets you agree to or disable ad tracking.
Apple has already implemented all of the framework for App Tracking Transparency, so these popups are also going to appear more frequently in earlier versions of iOS 14. iOS 14.5 is more of a deadline than a feature update when it comes to Apple’s new privacy rules, but it will mark the wide adoption of Apple’s iOS 14 anti-tracking functionality.
One notable aspect of this change is a requirement that developers 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.
There are some minor design changes that were made to the Podcasts app. Podcasts under “Shows” are now more prominently listed with episode descriptions and an easier access “Resume” button. The Search tab also allows you to browse through different categories to find what you’re looking for.
There’s now an option to sort lists in Reminders by Due Date, Creation Date, Priority, or Title, plus there is an option to print a Reminder list, which has been a feature that Reminders users have wanted for some time.
There’s a new Search tab in the Apple News app, and the News+ section has been redesigned with a “For You” feature and an easier to access Browse tab.
Emergency Alerts Settings
If you go to Settings > Notifications and scroll all the way down to Emergency Alerts, you can now tap the setting to disable an “Always Deliver” feature that causes emergency alerts to not play a sound when the Volume/Ringer is silenced. Alerts for earthquakes, tsunamis, and other similar emergency alerts will still cause your iPhone to sound an alarm, according to Apple’s code.
iPad Horizontal Loading Screen
On the iPad, the loading screen with the Apple logo now shows up in a horizontal orientation if your iPad is positioned that way.
iPad Emoji Search
You can now search for a specific emoji in iPadOS 14.5, a feature that was added to the iPhone with the launch of iOS 14.
Scribble Language Support on iPad
Scribble is designed to let users write in any text field on the iPad, with the handwritten text converted automatically into typed text. Scribble can be used across iPadOS 14 for writing out iMessages, conducting Safari searches, looking for directions in Maps, creating Notes, scheduling Calendar events, and more.
Safer Safe Browsing
In iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 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.
iPad Smart Folio Security
On the 8th-generation iPad, the 4th-generation iPad Air, the 2nd-generation 11-inch iPad Pro, and the 4th-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Apple has added a new privacy feature that’s designed to mute the built-in microphone whenever the Smart Folio is shut.
This will prevent apps from accessing the microphone when the tablet is not in use, with the feature also working with other MFi smart cases. Apple first introduced this feature in the 2020 iPad Pro models, and is expanding it to additional models.
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.
Software Up to Date Text
The first iOS 14.5 beta tweaked the software update text to say “Your iPhone is up to date with all of the latest bug fixes and security enhancements,” but iOS 14.5 beta 2 walked that back. Now it just reads “iOS is up to date,” which may be placeholder text for a future change.
Green Tint Fix?
Some reports suggest that the second beta of iOS 14.5 may fix the green tint issue that some iPhone owners have been experiencing. Some iPhone 12 models exhibit a gray or green glow, an issue that Apple said it was investigating back in November. For some users, there are improvements, but for others, the issue still appears to exist so it’s not entirely clear whether the beta definitively addresses the tint.
Battery Pack Mention
There’s a vague mention of charging an iPhone with a “battery pack” in the iOS 14.5 code under the optimized charging section. It’s not clear what Apple is referring to with “battery pack” since existing battery options made by Apple are Smart Battery Case. It’s either unusual wording for the case or a hint of a future iPhone 12 battery pack. “To improve charging efficiency and maximize available battery life, the battery pack will keep your phone charged at around 90%,” reads the text.
There are also quite a few smaller features that have been added in the iOS 14.5 update, which are listed below.
- Interfaces for typing to Siri and sending iMessages with Siri have received some minor design tweaks to use Apple’s more compact UI.
- There are minor design changes when asking Siri to locate a person using the Find My app.
- There are new sounds for locating Beats in the Find My app.
- There are some updates to the Hermes watch faces with new color additions.
- There are new colors for Beats icons.
- It should now be easier to set up an iPad with a cellular connection.
- German Girocards may now be able to be added to the Wallet app to be used with Apple Pay.
- There’s an Apple Watch Accessibility option for Headphone Notifications, which allows the feature to be toggled off.
- Apps can ask to connect to your Game Center friends for enhanced multiplayer.
There are also a handful of changes to the underlying code that don’t necessarily reflect new feature implementations at this time, but could potentially serve as an indication of what’s coming in the future.
- For the Find My app, there’s new wording for AirTags or future third-party item trackers. “These are items that aren’t yours, but have been seen with you for a continuous amount of time.”
- There’s a mention of Web Apps accessing speech recognition.
- Siri may be able to tell you about traffic conditions when in the car.
- There are hints of new Siri car commands that could be implemented in the future.
- There are mentions of U1 chip pairing for the car, which is perhaps related to some automobile manufacturers’ plans to implement Ultra Wideband support for digital keys. BMW announced a “Digital Key Plus” feature that uses Ultra Wideband in January.
- There are “Edutainment” plugin mentions.
- iOS 14.5 has mentions in the code of financial health features that could perhaps analyze your spending to provide recommendations on improving your finances. It appears the feature may also help you plan out purchases and payment schedules for financed items.
- There are SensorKit UI Facial metrics and speech metrics that appear to be related to health studies. These features allow the iPhone to detect facial expressions and listen for laughing, shouting, and other emotion-related metrics.
- We may see new Shazam integrations, with Apple adding a new background Shazam process.
- Siri may be able to modify Contact entries in the future.
- There are some new wallpaper mentions, but no outward-facing wallpaper changes.
- There are new diagnostic sounds, possibly related to AirPods Pro repair and testing.
Know of something that we left off of our iOS 14.5 feature list? Let us know in the comments.