Am not sure how many iterations this iOS went thru — seven? They’ve been testing one neat new feature after another. There will be other articles that will zero in on the details but here’s a basic primer.
Apple will release iOS 14.5 next week. Download it for these new features.
BY BRENDA STOLYAR1 DAY AGO
Typically, an Apple operating system update means one or two new features, plus bug fixes and security patches.
Seeing as many of its features have already rolled out via developer and public betas, you’ve probably heard of most of them. Regardless, we rounded up all the important ones for you.
How to download the new update
To download iOS 14.5, all you have to do is go to Settings > Software Update > Download and Install. Once your phone cycles through the update, you’ll be all set.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, masks aren’t going anywhere for a while. The new update addresses the frustrating experience that is unlocking your phone with Face ID and a mask. But there’s a caveat: You must own an Apple Watch.
To turn the feature on, grab your iPhone and go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Unlock with Apple Watch and turn it on. You’ll also have to enable a passcode on your Apple Watch and make sure Wrist Detection is turned on as well.
Whenever you’re wearing the Watch, it’ll recognize your iPhone and unlock it. When this happens, you’ll feel haptic feedback on your wrist and a notification will alert you that your phone was unlocked. You can also lock your iPhone via the Watch by tapping on the “Lock iPhone” button.
Siri is a little more useful
It’s no secret that for the most part, Siri sucks — particularly because it struggles to accurately recognize what you’re saying and is rarely helpful when answering questions. Unfortunately, iOS 14.5 doesn’t address those concerns (perhaps that’ll be an iOS 15 fix).
Instead, the new update gives Siri a few more capabilities and room for user customization.
More voices to choose from
Rather than defaulting to a female voice, users setting up a new iPhone running iOS 14.5 will receive an automatic prompt to select which voice they want to use.
Apple now gives users four voices to choose from, instead of just two. You can preview them by tapping on each one. Volume 0%00:0000:15More VideosNo, Mexico isn’t actually that orange. Hollywood is just racist.How to know if you (or Donald Trump) violated the First AmendmentWhat you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccineCristina Mittermeier’s Instagram chronicles a natural world on the brink. But she’s got a plan to help save it.How Keyboard Cat hit the viral jackpotHow influencers are ruining OnlyFans for sex workersClose
Those downloading iOS 14.5 on their current iPhone can also switch their default Siri voice. Go to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri Voice and tap on the one you want.
New phone call and FaceTime features
In addition to reading out messages while your AirPods are in and your iPhone is locked, Siri can now announce incoming calls. When you turn the feature on via Settings, it’ll let you know who is calling and will also ask if you want to answer it using your AirPods.
Siri can also now call your emergency contacts. Simply say “Siri, call my emergency contact” and it will automatically call whoever you designated via the Health app. If someone is in distress and can’t make make the call themselves (for example, if they’re unconscious), then anyone who has access to their phone can use the same Siri command to make the call for them.
Siri also now supports group FaceTime calls — when asking Siri to make a FaceTime call, just list the contacts you want to include. If you already have an iMessage group going and it has a nickname, then you can also ask Siri to call that specific group.
Siri learns your audio app preferences
You might’ve read back in February that iOS 14.5 allows Siri users to set a third-party music service as your default. Sadly, that’s not how the feature actually works (sorry not sorry, Apple Music).
Instead, the feature allows Siri to learn your behavior across audio apps.
For example, if you listen to one podcast on the Apple Podcast app but you use Spotify to listen to another podcast (that might be exclusive to the streaming service), then Siri will learn this over time. That way, if you say “Hey Siri, play [insert podcast here],” then it’ll automatically know which app to use.
A few updates to emoji
In case you were tired of your go-to emoji options, Apple added some new ones, including a face exhaling, a face with spiral eyes, heart on fire, and a woman with beard. The new update also comes with some redesigned emoji, including a syringe with clear liquid instead of red to make it more universal.
The latest release also lets you choose between five skin tones for the individual people, the couple kissing, and the couple with heart Emoji.
App Tracking Transparency is here
With iOS 14.5, you’ll now have more control over which apps track your user behavior. With the new App Tracking Transparency feature, developers must now ask for your permission before tracking your data.
The setting should be turned on automatically, but you can toggle it on and off by going to Settings > Privacy > Tracking. From there, you’ll also be able to see and control which apps are tracking your data and which are not.
Upgrades to the Maps app
In an effort to keep drivers hands-free and undistracted while driving, iPhone users (in the U.S. and China) can now report a hazard, speed check, or accident along a route using Siri. Additionally, you can report that there’s an accident ahead or that an incident has been cleared. The feature works with CarPlay as well, so you can use Siri to report the same information using your car’s display.
You can also now share your Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) through the Maps app when walking and cycling. That way, you can let family or friends know when you supposed to arrive. When driving, you can have CarPlay share your ETA using Siri.
Stream Fitness+ using AirPlay 2
If you really don’t want to drop money on an Apple TV to stream your Fitness+ workouts to the big screen, I have some good news: You don’t have to. With the new update, you can use AirPlay 2 to mirror what’s on your iPhone or iPad to a TV that’s compatible with the feature.
It’s worth noting that you do lose out on the ability to see your metrics on the screen (the way you would if you used it with Apple TV). You’ll have to glance at your Apple Watch to see where you’re at in each class instead.
But it’s one way to save money on what’s already a hefty investment towards your health and fitness.
Some enhancements to Apple’s other apps
With this new update, Apple has given some of its other apps some TLC too — specifically Apple Podcasts, Apple News, and the Notes app.
Apple Podcasts: For starters, there’s a new podcast layout with a “show” page that features artwork for the podcast you’re listening to. It comes complete with a play/pause button that allows you to start listening from where you left off.
You can also now “follow” specific podcasts, so that you automatically receive notifications whenever a new episode is available. The app also gives you more control over your content as well — you can set your preferences so that new episodes for certain podcasts automatically download, while you only receive notifications for others.
You can save individual episodes too, which sync across all your devices. Since they’re all under one tab, it makes it a lot easier to find them later on.
Apple News: Apple’s news app now has a dedicated tab at the bottom of the app for Search. So, you can search for specific articles. Apple also redesigned the News Plus tab, making it easier for users to access newspapers and magazines they’re currently reading, and to also help make it easier to organize downloaded issues.
Reminders: In the Reminders app, you’re able to sort each reminder by due date, creation date, priority title, or manually (all of which syncs across devices). You can also print reminders if you want the ability to carry around a physical copy rather than using your phone.