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iOS 14.5 update: the best new features set to come to your iPhone

iOS 14.5 is the next version of iOS, and while it won’t be as big an update as iOS 15 , which isn’t expected to land in finished form until...

iOS 14.5 is the next version of iOS, and while it won’t be as big an update as iOS 15, which isn’t expected to land in finished form until September, it’s still set to add a bunch of new features and improvements.

We know this because iOS 14.5 is already in beta, so developers and members of the public have turned up all sorts of interesting additions. Some of these are handy upgrades, like an alternative to Face ID that lets you unlock your iPhone by wearing an Apple Watch – a feature in iOS 14.5 beta 2, which just arrived for developers.

Below, we’ve highlighted the five best things we’re expecting in iOS 14.5. It’s worth noting that there’s a chance some of these things won’t turn up, as occasionally features in beta don’t make it to the finished release, but we’d certainly expect most of them.

We’ve also included information on when iOS 14.5 is likely to land, so that those who don’t want to brave the beta will know how long they have to wait.

iOS 14.5 release date

There’s no news on exactly when iOS 14.5 might launch, but we have reason to believe it’s coming very soon.

There are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, it’s already available in both public and developer betas, which suggests it would probably arrive soon. But secondly and more significantly, Apple has launched a new 14.x version every calendar month since the launch of iOS 14, and iOS 14.4 landed in January, so we could see iOS 14.5 this month (February).

That said, iOS 14.4 started rolling out at the end of January, and the actual gap between new versions is just over a month on average, so it might be towards the end of February or even the beginning of March by the time we get iOS 14.5, but that’s still only weeks away at the time of writing.

Five things iOS 14.5 will bring to your iPhone

We’re expecting a bunch of updates as part of iOS 14.5, but below we’ve listed the five most interesting ones that we’ve heard about so far.

1. Mask support for Face ID

iPhone X

(Image credit: Future)

Face ID was great until we all started wearing masks, but with iOS 14.5 Apple is making it great again, at least for Apple Watch owners.

That’s because as long as your Apple Watch is unlocked, you’ll now be able to use it to authenticate your identity on your phone, meaning you can simply raise your phone as if to use Face ID, and it will unlock, with a buzz on your wrist to tell you your watch has done the heavy lifting.

However, while this will work for unlocking your iPhone, it doesn’t currently work for other things that rely on Face ID, such as authenticating purchases. Still, it's a handy workaround for users who have had facial recognition blocked when wearing face masks – and given the feature arrived in iOS 14.5 beta 2 for developers, we'd expect this to land in the full release.

2. A default music player of your choice

On iOS 14.4 and below you’re stuck with Apple Music as the default music player, but the iOS 14.5 beta finally lets you change this.

The first time you request a song from Siri it should ask what player you want to use, with Spotify among many others supported, then going forward it should always default to that player, so you won’t have to specify with each request.

We say it ‘should’ do this because the beta version seems to have some teething problems, and isn’t consistently working for people, but hopefully these issues will be ironed out in time for the finished version of iOS 14.5.

3. App Tracking Transparency

App Tracking Transparency

(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 14.5 is also expected to include a big new privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency. This will require apps to get your permission before sharing your activity and data with websites and apps owned by other companies.

This sharing of data is often used for adverts, with Facebook for example making big use of it, but with App Tracking Transparency you’ll be able to opt out if you’d prefer, and Apple is insisting that users still have full access to apps even if they do opt out of this.

4. PS5 and Xbox Series X controller support

If you’re a gamer then you’ll probably appreciate the addition of support for PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers as part of iOS 14.5. The Verge reports that this feature has been found in the public beta, and it should be a handy upgrade for anyone who owns one of these consoles, especially those who also make use of Apple Arcade.

Arguably this would be even more useful for gaming on an Apple TV, and while the feature isn’t yet confirmed for tvOS, we’d expect it will soon be added to that too.

5. Crowdsourced alerts in Apple Maps

Apple Maps iOS 14.5

(Image credit: Apple / MacRumors)

Many of us aren’t really going anywhere at the moment, but for those who do have much use for Apple Maps, there’s a potentially handy new feature in the iOS 14.5 beta.

MacRumors reports that you can now report accidents, hazards, and speed checks on your journey, and presumably if enough people flag the same thing a warning about it will appear on Apple Maps – though with so many people staying at home and the feature still being in beta, it’s not getting enough use for that to have been confirmed as far as we can see.



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