Apple iOS 14.5 Released: Massive iPhone Update With Cool Features & Important Fixes
April 28 Update below. This post was first published on April 26.
Apple’s latest iPhone software update is with us. Oh, finally.
It’s been a long time coming and it has a lot in it, more than any other mid-cycle update from Apple. Innovations range from the controversial App Tracking Transparency to lots of cool emoji to a super-slick way to unlock your iPhone with a mask on (as long as you’re wearing your Apple Watch).MORE FROM FORBESAirTag Stole The Show At Apple's Keynote: Wait Until You Hear What They Didn't MentionBy David Phelan
Read on for full details of this release and earlier iOS 14 versions, how to get it and what to get excited about (hint: there’s a lot). The full Apple changelog can be found at the end of this post.
April 28 Update. There are some parts of iOS updates that only become evident a little after the release has happened. Where the general release notes indicate bugs have been squished, more forensic details become apparent when Apple publishes its support document about security content.MORE FOR YOU
This is such a big release it’s not surprising that the accompanying security document is much longer than usual, too.
It reveals that an issue that affected accessibility has been repaired which previously meant that someone with physical access to an iOS device could have accessed notes from the lock screen.
There were fixes for malicious applications referring to the Apple Neural engine – something that affected devices going back as far as iPhone 8, now sorted thanks to improved input validation.
FaceTime had been affected by a situation where mute wasn’t enabled when it should have been (which could be embarrassing for all concerned). This has been addressed, to save your blushes.
Password Manager had been prone to showing a user’s password on screen, which obviously isn’t ideal, but improved logic, as Apple puts it, has sorted this. There were also fixes for issues such as incoming calls being answered inappropriately and problems in Shortcuts allowing access to restricted files.
There had been problems with Wallet – which is not a sentence you ever want to read – where sensitive information could be viewed where it shouldn’t be. That’s been fixed.
And then there’s WebKit, an area of vulnerability in recent other updates, too but there’s been more work done on it here to prevent malicious content leading to cross site scripting, or to arbitrary code execution or other concerns. They’ve been fixed now, Apple says.
April 27 Update. Apple has defended the most controversial part of the new update, App Tracking Transparency (ATT), in a new interview with The Independent. Erik Neuenschwander, who heads up Apple’s work on privacy, told the newspaper that he thinks the innovation can work to benefit both iPhone users and companies.
Snapchat, it has been reported, was looking into ways around the rules. Neuenschwander’s take was this: “Either it means that they think they've hit upon a way to flout the policies and sneak onto users' devices and not respect their privacy. That's something that we are continually on the lookout for, with our app review process. And I think that we will, it's a high area of focus for us. But the other way to look at that is, well, they find a way around to provide great advertising while providing greater respect for user privacy. And that is an outcome that I hope happens.”
App Tracking Transparency was originally meant to come much sooner, but Apple used the time before it was actually introduced to respond to feedback from developers and enhance a tool called SKAdNetwork, which lets advertisers track how successful a marketing campaign has been without them seeing data about individual users, something that Neuenschwander says was designed to provide “great experiences without shortchanging any of the privacy protections.”
Whether this will be enough to staunch criticism from developers will become apparent in the coming days and weeks. Neuenschwander concludes, “ATT grew out of a desire to give users increased choice and visibility into a particular kind of data use, that was a concern to them. And that's what motivates us for all the things that we build into our products.”
How to get it
This update is for compatible iPhones, with iPadOS 14.5 which is simultaneously released for compatible iPads. Compatibility for the phones goes back to the iPhone 6s, including iPhone SE (both the first and current editions), plus the seventh-generation iPod touch. For iPads, if you have any iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 or more recent, iPad mini 4 or newer and iPad from fifth generation onwards then you’re good to go.
Updating is straightforward. You’ll know this by now, but just in case: first, go to the Settings app on the iPhone and choose General, then Software Update. Then it’s Download and finally, Install. This is a big update, but it’s worth waiting for - it was a 1.19GB update that took 20 minutes to download and another short while to install.
What’s in the update?
There’s plenty to get your teeth into here.
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch If you’re wearing a mask you’ll know that Face ID takes time to spot that you don’t look like you and offers a passcode screen instead. But if you don't want to wait that long and you’re wearing an Apple Watch, the Watch can communicate with your iPhone and confirm that it’s you.
Lots of new emoji Then there are all the new emoji, more than 200 of them, including one called Face in Clouds which just looks slightly rude. Read all about these here.
App Tracking Transparency This is the really controversial part of the whole update, the one which other companies such as Facebook, for instance, have been dead opposed to and protested strongly against. It means that when you launch an app that collects your activity data or tracks you, you can turn off that option. Trackers are often used for personalized ads or for companies to see how an ad campaign is going. It will be trickier for companies to track you thanks to iOS 14.5. Apps that track you will, from today, have to ask you whether you want to be tracked or not. The expectation is that most people will say no.
Battery recalibration With iOS 14.5, your iPhone will automatically recalibrate your battery if inaccurate peak performance or unexpected drain are spotted. For now, this is restricted to iPhone 11 series models but others may be compatible later.
Dual sim 5G If you have a dual sim iPhone, both can access 5G at the same time.
Choose your music service You can’t set a default music service in iOS, as you can with your web browser, for instance. However, when you say “Hey, Siri,” and ask your iPhone to play a favorite track, it will ask you which service you want it to use. If you pick Spotify, it will learn that preference.
New voices for Siri No longer will the software default to the female Siri voice. You’ll be asked to choose between options and neither is specified by gender any more.
Podcasts get a fresh look and now resemble Apple Music.
Console controllers compatibility If you have a PS5 or Xbox Series X, you can now use the controllers for these consoles with your iPad or iPhone.
Privacy when you close the iPad in Smart Keyboard Folio This is part of iPadOS 14.5, also just released. With the iPad, iPad Air and iPad Pro in the Smart Folio, when you close it, the microphone on the tablet is now automatically muted. Neat.
Smaller updates aplenty You can swipe to add songs to the queue in Apple Music. There’s AirPlay 2 support for Apple Fitness+ so you can use selected smart TVs without an Apple TV box. Siri can also call emergency services for you, which is handy if you can’t physically reach your iPhone, for instance. Reminders has more options for sorting items – hurrah!MORE FROM FORBESiPad Pro 2021: Why Apple's New iPad Will Be Amazingly InnovativeBy David Phelan
Read on for details of what was released in earlier updates.
Previous iOS 14 updates
Back on Friday, March 26, Apple released another WebKit fix to ensure that nobody can insert malicious code that would compromise your iPhone use.
Out on March 8, this was an update focused on one function, to fix a vulnerability in WebKit.
Lots of angles to this, released on January 26, 2021. HomePod mini handoff was enhanced, the Set Wallpaper shortcut let you add the image to perspective zoom and there were changes to Accessibility settings. The camera can now handle smaller QR codes, too. You can also now classify Bluetooth audio devices. So, you can say whether they’re speakers, car stereos, headphones or hearing aids. There were also plenty of bug fixes.
Released December 14, 2020, 14.3 was a big release with plenty of new elements, such as support for the company’s latest hardware – AirPods Max – and the introduction of Fitness+. To use it, you need to have a compatible Apple Watch.
Photographers welcomed Apple ProRAW, which allows photos to be captured on the latest Pro versions of iPhone 12 in the new ProRAW format
Enhanced ECG capabilities for Apple Watch also arrived, in tandem with the latest watchOS update.
Privacy “nutrition labels” went live today in the App Store. Apps, including those from Apple, must display information indicating exactly what data is used to track you or to link to you. If you want to use the Ecosia search engine, that’s now an option.
This update landed on November 19, 2020 and was all about fixing issues. Messages had problems in group message threads, which this update sorted. An unresponsive lock screen and problems with Made for iPhone hearing devices were fixed in this update. This update was only for iPhone 12 models.
Released on November 5, 2020, this update brought over 100 brilliant new emoji, new wallpapers with light and dark mode versions, support for the upcoming iPhone 12 leather sleeve, and an improvement to HomePod and the upcoming HomePod mini’s new Intercom feature.
The original HomePod gained connectivity to the Apple TV 4K for stereo surround sound and Dolby Atmos audio.
The Magnifier app gained People Detection, using the LiDAR sensor included in iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max to reveal how far away people are. This is a real benefit for people with limited vision and is especially useful at a time when social distancing is important.
And now, AirPods battery charging is optimized for the first time, and there was a timely option to give statistics about Exposure Notifications, without identification, to Public Health Authorities. Plus, lots of bug-squishing.
This was released on October 20, 2020 and, like the next iOS update this one included stuff for the HomePod.
Other benefits are focused on fixes and bug squishes. For instance, it means there’s now support for 10-bit HDR video playback, applying to Photos for iPhone 8 and later. Issues with reduced-size icons, folders and widgets were addressed, along with other Home screen problems such as apps disappearing from folders when widgets were dragged was fixed. Mail issues, such as messages sent from an incorrect alias have been sorted. Incoming calls regional info that wasn’t working is now all fixed. Other issues included a screen redraw problem with an emergency call overlap, songs that wouldn’t download and a Calculator app issue were sorted
There were a couple of Apple Watch problems such as the iPhone not identifying the case material on your timepiece have been addressed.
Released on September 24, this update fixed an issue where the default browser and mail settings reset after restarting your iPhone, sorted an issue that prevented camera previews from displaying on, specifically, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus and a problem where the iPhone wouldn’t connect to wi-fi.
A problem sending emails with certain providers and images not appearing in the News widget, were also addressed.
The first version of iOS 14 was released on September 16, 2020.
The Home Screen added Widgets – smart app icons with changing information – on the home screen, revealed an App Gallery to help sort where your apps sit and added Compact Designs. These mean that Siri just sits at the bottom of the screen instead of taking it over completely while calls coming in will be announced just at the top of the screen.
App Clips are something completely new. If you need something an app delivers but really don’t have time to download the whole app, register, set up an account, verify your credentials and so on, then App Clips can help. They’ll work well with something like a parking app, say, when you’re next to the meter and short on time. Instead, you’ll scan the QR code, or tap the NFC tag, on the meter. App Clips downloads just the bit of the app you need and since you log in through Apple, all those things like payment details are sorted, too. This could be amazing as more apps come on stream.
The Messages app is now more capable, so you can now pin conversations you want to find easily at the top of the list, new Memoji options and better layouts for replies.
Maps has been improved, as on the Apple Watch, by the addition of cycle routes, routing for electric vehicles, edited guides to find new restaurants and more.
Translate is designed to make it easy to translate conversations in real time across 11 modes. You can even do this offline, which should save data costs when you’re traveling.
The Weather app can show you how much it’s going to rain in the next hour as well as advising on severe weather events.
New Accessibility features include Back Tap which lets you configure shortcuts when you tap on the back of the iPhone in a particular way.
AirPods Pro get in on the action, too, thanks to extra features which appear on the earbuds when your iPhone has moved to iOS 14. These include Spatial Audio so you can have a surround-sound effect as you watch a movie, say, and seamless device switching. More details here.
Apple’s full changelog follows.
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
AirTag and Find My
This release also fixes the following issues: