After several week of testing, Apple on Monday finally released iOS 14.5. The new software arrives in time for the launch of Apple’s new AirTags, but the release is much bigger than that. In fact, it’s one of the company’s most important mid-cycle updates ever.

One of the most important changes in iOS 14.5 is the introduction of App Tracking Transparency — a feature that’s drawn the ire of Facebook. Essentially, the feature requires that developers get permission from users before sharing their information with third-party companies, including advertisers. If you tell an app not to track you, it must stop monitoring and sharing your data.

Image: Apple

The idea is to provide users with more control over their privacy. After all, why should Mark Zuckerberg know our buying habits and what we’re doing inside of other apps? By giving people more control, it will be more difficult for brands to target people with ads. So, the next time you search for a dog collar online, you may not see an ad from a dog collar company on Instagram.

The release of iOS 14.5 also introduces another anticipated feature: the ability to quickly unlock an iPhone while wearing a mask. The ongoing pandemic has all but nullified Apple’s Face ID, and because many modern iPhones no longer have fingerprint biometrics, people have had to unlock their devices with an old fashioned passcode. But Apple’s latest software has introduced a new feature that will unlock your phone while you’re masked. It’s important to note, however, that the new feature requires an Apple Watch to work.

iOS 14.5 iPhone Apple Watch Unlock

iOS 14.5 iPhone Apple Watch Unlock

Image: Apple

Another big addition in iOS 14.5 is the ability to use Siri to play audio from a third-party app, including Spotify. When you install the latest update and ask Siri to play a song, the assistant will ask you which app you want to use. Once you pick your option, that will essentially become the “default” option for Siri going forward. Speaking of Siri, iOS 14.5 no longer defaults to a female voice, and two additional voice options have also been added.

There are several other features available in iOS 14.5, including support for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S controllers, Waze-like features in Apple Maps, over 200 new emoji, updates to the Music app, and more.

iOS 14.5 changelog

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

  • Ability to unlock your ‌iPhone‌ X and later with Apple Watch Series 3 and later when you attempt to use Face ID while wearing a face mask

AirTag and Find My

  • Support for AirTag to keep track of and find your important items like your keys, wallet, backpack and more, privately and securely in the Find My app
  • Precision Finding uses visual, audible, and haptic feedback to guide you directly to your nearby AirTag using Ultra Wideband provided by the U1 chip on iPhone 11 and ‌iPhone 12‌ models
  • AirTag can be located by playing a sound via the built-in speaker
  • The ‌Find My‌ network with hundreds of millions of devices can help you find your AirTag, even when it isn’t nearby
  • Lost Mode notifies you when your AirTag is found, and you can enter a phone number where you can be contacted

Emoji

  • Support for separate skin tones for each individual in all variations of the couple kissing emoji and couple with heart emoji
  • New face emojis, heart emojis, woman with a beard emoji

Siri

  • Siri‌ now includes more diverse voice options
  • Incoming calls can be announced with ‌Siri‌, including who is calling, when you’re wearing your ‌AirPods‌ or compatible Beats headphones, and you can answer hands-free
  • Group FaceTime calls are supported by asking ‌Siri‌ to ‌FaceTime‌ a list of contacts or a group name from Messages
  • Emergency contacts can be called by asking ‌Siri‌

Privacy

  • App Tracking Transparency lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers

Apple Music

  • Share your favorite lyrics using Messages, Facebook, and Instagram Stories, and subscribers can play the snippet in Messages without leaving the conversation
  • City charts showcase what’s popular in over 100 cities from all over the world

Podcasts

  • Podcasts Show Pages are redesigned to make it easier to start listening
  • Option to save and download episodes, automatically adding them to your Library for quick access
  • Download behavior and notification settings can be customized on a show-by-show basis
  • Top Charts and popular categories in Search help you discover new shows

5G improvements

  • Dual SIM support enables 5G connectivity on the line that’s using cellular data on ‌iPhone 12‌ models
  • Smart Data Mode improvements further optimize your experience on 5G networks for better battery life and data usage on ‌iPhone 12‌ models
  • 5G international roaming enabled on supported carriers on ‌iPhone 12‌ models

News

  • Redesigned News+ tab enables Apple News+ subscribers to quickly find, download, and manage magazine and newspaper issues
  • All-new Search experience that helps you find relevant topics, channels, and stories

Maps

  • Accidents, hazards, or speed checks along your route can be reported by telling ‌Siri‌ on your ‌iPhone‌ or on CarPlay
  • Estimated time of arrival (ETA) can be shared when cycling or walking, in addition to driving, by asking ‌Siri‌ or tapping on the route card at the bottom of the screen, then tapping Share ETA

Reminders

  • Ability to sort reminders by Title, Priority, Due Date, or Creation date
  • Option to print your reminder lists

Translate

  • Translation playback speed can be adjusted by long pressing the play button

Gaming

  • Xbox Series X/S Wireless Controller or Sony PS5 DualSenseTM Wireless Controller support

Fitness+

  • Ability to stream audio and video content from Apple Fitness+ workouts to ‌AirPlay‌ 2-enabled TVs and devices

CarPlay

  • ETA in ‌Apple Maps‌ can be easily shared while driving with new ‌Siri‌ or keyboard controls in ‌CarPlay‌

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • 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 (https://support.apple.com/HT212247)
  • 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