The next iOS 14 update — iOS 14.5 — currently sits in beta form, but that’s going to change within the next week. Apple’s Spring Loaded event featured a few new products coming out April 30 — and at least one of them depends on iOS 14.5.
So that gives us a target date for the updated iPhone software. And to be fair, we had been expecting a spring release, especially since Apple has previously seeded its iOS 14.5 beta to developers, giving them a strict timeline on implementing the new app tracking transparency requirements into their apps. A public beta has been out for a while, too.
We expect lots of users will update to iOS 14.5 once it’s final, and not just because there are several important features like the ability to unlock your iPhone with an Apple Watch, expanded Siri voice options and support for the newly announce AirTag trackers. Apple recently shared that iOS 14 — iOS 14.4, specifically — is installed on 80% of all active iPhones and on 86% of iPhones introduced in the last four years.
We’ve dug through the iOS 14.5 beta to find the most important additions, but this isn’t a full, final list. Apple could continue to add or tweak features before the final iOS 14.5 release, which we’d expect at some point this month. As recently as beta 6, Apple was still adding features we hadn’t spotted before.
iOS 14.5 release date
You’ve been able to download iOS 14.5 as a public beta for some time now, with beta 8 currently available. With rumors suggesting a spring date, we’d say the full version is coming very soon.
How soon was just announced by Apple — sort of. While the company hasn’t set a formal launch date for iOS 14.5, it does say that the new AirTag trackers require iOS 14.5. With those trackers hitting stores April 30, you can bet the new version of iOS 14 is going to be available to download by then.
Apple has also set a date for its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, where iOS 15 figures to get a preview in advance of its fall release. As Apple usually launches the beta program for the next iOS update at WWDC, we’d expect iOS 14.5 to be out long before the conference kicks off on June 7.
iOS 14.5 beta 8
Apple has now released the eighth beta version of iOS 14.5, with that release following closely behind betas 6 and 7. That rapid pace usually suggests Apple is fine-tuning things for a full release.
The big additions have come in earlier versions of the iOS 14.5 beta, though the recent beta 6 update gave us a pair of brand-new American English voices for Siri. We also learned that Apple’s digital assistant will no longer default to a female voice.
in addition, beta 6 of iOS 14.5 introduced a battery health recalibration tool, which we go into detail later on; it should help you get more battery life out of your iPhone, providing it’s eligible for the iOS 14.5 update. Some iPhone users have reported better battery life since installing the beta.
Take a look at all the features iOS 14.5 could potentially bring and why you might want to consider getting the beta version. (Note that some of the features below may not appear in the full version of iOS 14.)
iOS 14.5 public beta features and download info
We have a step-by-step guide for downloading the iOS 14.5 public beta. Even at this stage, though, you may want to stick to installing any beta on a secondary phone. (That said, iOS 14.5 is pretty stable by now.)
Note that you’ll need to sign up on the Apple Beta Software Program page to try out the iOS 14.5 public beta. With the full version coming by the end of the month, it may be worth it just to wait until then.
Unlock with Apple Watch with iOS 14.5
We learned the shortcomings of Face ID when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Face masks befuddled the Face ID sensors, meaning that for the last year or so, we’ve had to manually unlock our iPhones. Thankfully, Apple has found a workaround, though it has one big caveat: you need an Apple Watch.
Unlock with Apple Watch is exactly what it sounds like. Using Apple’s wearable, you can bypass Face ID to unlock your iPhone. It requires that both devices be in very close proximity to each other, otherwise you will need to unlock the phone manually. The Apple Watch must also be unlocked for this to work.
Once you have iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, you can head into Settings under Face ID and passcode. Bear in mind that you cannot use Unlock with Apple Watch to authenticate Apple Pay or App Store purchases. These will still require your face or passcode.
App tracking transparency in iOS 14.5
iOS 14.5 adds new app tracking transparency policies, a major change Apple has been planning to roll out since it first announced iOS last summer. App developers, like Facebook, will need to ask your permission in order to access your advertising ID. That ID allows them to track you across apps and websites. A report from AdWeek anticipates that roughly two-thirds of iPhone users are expected to take advantage of the feature, which could have an impact on free iOS apps in particular.
Some of these privacy features already exists in iOS 14, but 14.5 serves as the deadline for app developers to implement the new policy before the apps are removed from the App Store. Developers are reporting a flurry of App Store rejections for not fully complying with Apple’s new privacy requirements, which leads us to conclude that iOS 14.5’s arrival is imminent.
When everything is live, you’ll get a new pop-up asking if you want to let the app track you. Apple once again aims for pure simplicity. It’s a huge step forward for privacy and one we’re excited to see come to fruition.
Apple Maps crowdsourcing accidents (and speed traps) in iOS 14.5
In iOS 14.5, Apple Maps is set to copy a popular key feature from Waze. It will use real drivers to crowdsource road accidents, speed traps, and other traffic hazards, just like its main competitors can. There will be a dedicated button in Maps to report something, available both on the phone and in CarPlay — simple, but effective.
Apple Maps crowd data in iOS 14.5
Accidents and speed-traps won’t be the only crowd-source data available in Maps, at least according to one rumor. MacRumors reports that the iOS’s Location Services menu now notes that launching certain apps when you’re at a point of interest or business will anonymously send encrypted info that the Maps app can use to determine how many people are at a site at a given time of day. That would allow Maps to show whether the place you’re headed to is crowded or not and when crowds are expected to be at their peak. Google Maps offers a similar feature.
It’s unclear if this feature will be ready by the time iOS 14.5 comes out or if Apple is just gathering the data now for a future update to add crowd-tracking capabilities to Maps. At this point, we’d guess that this feature won’t make the final cut for iOS 14.5, but keep an eye on future updates.
Other app improvements in iOS 14.5
Apple is tweaking more than just apps in iOS 14.5. People using the iOS 14.5 beta have noticed several changes to everything from Podcasts to Reminders. None of the tweaks are earth-shattering, but they should make iOS 14’s built-in apps easier to use.
The Podcasts app was highlighted during Apple’s Spring Loaded event as part of Apple’s plan to introduce Apple Podcasts Subscriptions in May. iOS 14.5 introduces a redesigned show page for easier playback management with more control over the episodes you download. The Up Next screen is getting more menu commands for managing podcast episodes and sharing downloads.
As for other apps, you can now sort tasks in Reminders by priority, date and other factors; you’re able to print out a list of to-dos as well. Finally, there’s now a dedicated search tab in the News app, and Apple News Plus subscribers get a redesigned tab of their own that should help with discovering new content.
Teach Siri your favorite music app in iOS 14.5
iOS 14 let you choose your own default browser and email apps, a long overdue change. Sadly, iOS 14.5 won’t let you set a default app for music services — Apple has confirmed as much — but you can teach Siri your preferred apps over time.
When you tell Siri to play a song without specifying an app, you’ll be prompted with a list of possible apps; simply tap on the one you want to use. Over time, Siri may be able to learn your preferences to the point it will no longer ask, though this may take the final version to iOS 14.5 to work in full. Siri will take to asking again if you suddenly change your app usage habits.
New voices for Siri in iOS 14.5
Speaking of changes to Siri, iOS 14.5 introduces a couple. One of the most visible changes — or one of the most audible ones, to be accurate — is the additional of two new voice options in the American English section of Siri’s settings. The idea is to promote inclusivity, and give users more of a chance to pick a voice that sounds familiar to them.
We’ve got a guide on how to activate Siri’s new voices in iOS 14.5, but just open the Settings app and select Siri & Search. On the Siri voice menu, you now have four options under American English, with options 2 and 3 being the new choices.
In addition to the new voices, going forward, Siri will no longer default to a female voice. Instead, you’ll be prompted to select a voice when you set up a new iPhone. This feature seems like it’s unlikely to affect iPhone users who are simply upgrading to iOS 14.5; rather, it sounds like the feature will come into play the next time you buy a new iPhone from Apple.
Battery health calibration in iOS 14.5
Beta 6 for iOS 14.5 added a new capability aimed at making it easier to see if your iPhone’s battery is underperforming. The new battery health recalibration tool aims to fix “inaccurate estimates of battery health reporting.” It sounds as if the feature will run automatically, with the goal of more accurately displaying the maximum capacity of your phone’s battery. If that capacity has dropped, it’s usually a sign that you need to get your battery replaced.
From an Apple support document, battery health recalibration only works on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max at this point. It’s unclear if the finished version will expand to other iPhone models.
PS5 and Xbox Series X|S controller support in iOS 14.5
While both the PS5 and Xbox Series X remain in short supply, you can still get your hands on one of the new controllers easily enough. If you have one, either a PlayStation 5 DualSense or Xbox Series X|S controller, you’ll be able to pair it with your iPhone in iOS 14.5.
Apple Fitness Plus AirPlay 2 support in iOS 14.5
iOS 14.5 enables AirPlay 2 support for Apple Fitness Plus, meaning that you can cast your workouts to any AirPlay 2-compatible display.
Be aware that Apple Watch metrics will not appear on the larger screen. You will need to view these data points on your iPhone or iPad.
Support for Dual-SIM 5G in iOS 14.5
Dual-SIM iPhone users can use 5G globally on iOS 14.5 with the iPhone 12 series. Dual-SIM means that you can have two separate lines of service on one device. This is great for people who keep their work and personal lines separate, or for international travel.
When iOS 14.5 lands, both SIMs will have access to full 5G speeds.
Find My app in iOS 14.5
Here’s the part of iOS 14.5 that directly impacts AirTag, the new key finder from Apple. Find My is getting an update to add support for AirTag, which lets you track the location of various belongings fitted with Apple’s new device. iPhone 11 and 12 users will be able to use Precision Finding, a tracking feature that works with the Ultra Wideband sensor in those phones to guide you more precisely to a missing item.
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPhone users will be also able to located their PowerBeats Pro headphones using Apple’s Find My app. The wireless earbuds join several other products that support the Find My app, including the iPhone, MacBooks, Apple Watch and AirPods. Users will be able to trigger a sound to play form the PowerBeats Pro to locate the buds.
Finally, to prevent people from misusing an AirTag to track someone against their will, the iOS 14.5 hinted at a so-called “anti-stalking” feature, in which you’ll be warned on your iPhone if an unrecognized AirTag is trying to keep tabs on your location. Apple confirmed this feature while talking up the security aspects of AirTag.
Apple Card Family features
Here’s another feature Apple has confirmed, as the company addresses one of the shortfalls of its Apple Card credit card — up until now, there’s been no way of sharing a single Apple Card between multiple family members. That creates a headache if you like all your spending and balances to be under one roof.
Get ready for Apple Card Family features in iOS 14.5. As we saw in the beta, you’ll be able to use iCloud Family sharing to give other people access to your Apple Card. You can give them full account access if you want them to be able to access balances and spending history, or you can just limit that access to letting them use the card for purchases.
iOS 14.5 outlook
There’s a lot more that we didn’t cover here, but this update will include plenty of tweaks and new additions. Apple plans to make this release a big one and we’re excited for it to hit our iPhones. Based on the timeline of Apple’s other product releases, we won’t be waiting very long.