Since the rollout of iOS 14 last fall, updates to Apple’s mobile OS have been relatively small; some new emoji here, bug fixes there. But iOS 14.5, which should arrive any day now, brings with it some pretty noteworthy additions, from new ways to unlock your phone while wearing a mask to support for the latest Xbox and PlayStation controllers.
The second beta of iOS 14.5 arrived this week, so the final release should roll out soon. You can keep tabs on it via Settings > General > Software Update. When it does launch, here’s what you can expect.
Unlock Your iPhone With Apple Watch
The pandemic and increased mask wearing has made unlocking your phone with Face ID a troublesome task while out and about. Apple has taken some action here; iOS 13.5 made it easier to bring up the passcode screen. But with iOS 14.5, Apple Watch owners (who also update to watchOS 7.4) will be able to set their iPhones to unlock if the phone detects a face mask. If you’re wearing your Apple Watch and you look at your phone while wearing a mask, the phone will unlock and Apple will send a haptic tap to your watch. You’ll also see a “Lock iPhone” option on your watch if you didn’t mean to unlock your iPhone. 9to5Mac has a full rundown.
PS5 and Xbox Series X Game Controller Support
With most casual iPad or iPhone games, you can tap away on the device’s touch screen, but on Apple Arcade, some titles are best played with a controller. And with iOS 14.5, those with a PS5 DualSense controller or Xbox Series X controller can join in the fun, MacRumors reports.
Apple Fitness+ AirPlay 2 Support
Apple Fitness+ currently requires an Apple TV to stream workouts on your big screen, but iOS 14.5 will let you use AirPlay to stream audio and video from Fitness+ workouts to AirPlay 2-enabled TVs and devices. As PCMag’s Angela Moscaritolo explains, the experience won’t be quite the same as Fitness+ on an Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K; you won’t see your Apple Watch metrics on the big screen, for instance, just on your watch. But it’s a welcome integration.
Flag Accidents and Speed Traps in Apple Maps
Some Waze-like updates are coming to Apple Maps in iOS 14.5, including the ability to flag accidents and speed traps. As MacRumors reports, you’ll be able to note a specific location along a route by tapping a Report button, or by telling Siri. In either case, your current location and report will be flagged in Maps and shared with other Maps users so they can choose to avoid it if possible. The feature will also be accessible via CarPlay.
Ask Siri to Set Spotify as Your Default Music Player
With iOS 14, Apple finally allowed iPhone users to choose their default browser and mail apps, and with iOS 14.5, it appears you’ll be able to ask Siri to play your music exclusively through Spotify. As MacRumors reports, Reddit users noticed that in the iOS 14.5 beta, Siri will give you the option to choose from third-party music-streaming apps you have installed on your phone the first time you ask her to play a song. After you do that, you can just ask Siri to play a song without having to say “on Spotify” at the end.
For Apple Music fans, meanwhile, Lyrics Sharing will let subscribers share song lyrics on Messages, Facebook and Instagram Stories, Forbes reports. And keep an eye out for new “Made for You” mixes, 9to5Mac says.
App Data Tracking Opt-Outs
This one’s been on the agenda for awhile, but after a brief delay, iOS 14.5 will officially require app developers to get explicit permission from users before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies. When you download an app, you’ll see a notification that states “Allow ‘App’ to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites,” with two options: “Ask App not to Track” and “Allow.” If you select “Ask App not to Track,” it will not have access to the unique IDFA number used by advertisers and data collection advertisers, much to the chagrin of Facebook.
Also on the privacy front, Apple will handle Safari warnings about sketchy websites via Apple servers rather than Google Safe Browsing.
New Emoji Galore
Emoji fans will have plenty to work with in iOS 14.5, which serves up 217 new animated options, Emojpedia reports. Updates include a syringe without blood drops, which will make talking about COVID-19 vaccines less gruesome. Depending on how your Valentine’s Day went, meanwhile, you can use the heart on fire emoji or the bandaged/healing heart. There will also be more emoji options for people with beards, and a headphones emoji that looks like Apple’s own AirPods Max. Emoji search is also coming to iPadOS, AppleInsider says.
Other notable updates reportedly in the works: