iOS 14.5: Everything you need to know

Apple has begun beta testing iOS 14.5, and whereas the iOS 14.4 release was a little dull, this version brings several welcome improvements. You’ll get the ability to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch, AirPlay support for Fitness+, and the long-awaited App Tracking Transparency feature.

Apple released the first developer beta on February 1, but the public beta did not follow immediately after as it often does, instead coming on February 4 after a second build for developers. The final release to the general public is likely to come sometime in February or early March.

Update 02/10/2021: iOS 14.5 adds crowd-sourced accident reporting and speed traps to Apple Maps

What’s new in iOS 14.5

App Tracking Transparency

This version of iOS will lay the groundwork for Apple’s long-advertised App Tracking Transparency feature. Simply put, your iPhone will now require applications to ask for permission (through a standard iOS prompt) whenever they want to track your activities outside the app, such as across other apps or websites. Most users are unaware that many apps even do this. Apple is not blocking the practice, merely requiring informed consent just as it does for, say, location access.

You won’t immediately see these prompts upon installing the iOS 14.5 beta. Rather, the requirement will go into effect later this spring.

Crash reporting and speed traps in Apple Maps

Long a feature of Google Maps and Waze, Apple Maps users in iOS 14.5 will be able to share crash reports, road hazards, and speed traps in real-time to help navigate around traffic. It’s unclear how the system will work, but presumably, Apple will collect all of the data and offer alternative routes when things get backed up.

AirPlay 2 support for Fitness+

One of the biggest setbacks of Apple’s new fitness subscription service is that you can only use it on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. You can’t use it on a Mac or any other smart TV. With iOS 14.5, you can stream workouts from your iPhone or iPad to an AirPlay 2 supported device, which is a huge improvement. There are lots of TVs that support AirPlay 2 these days, so this makes the service a lot less restrictive. You won’t see your real-time metrics on screen, but that’s a relatively small price to pay.

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

Face ID is great, but the constant mask-wearing of the COVID-19 global pandemic has exposed an obvious flaw—it doesn’t work when half your face is covered up. With iOS 14.5 (and watchOS 7.4), you have the option to make your iPhone work like your Mac does, and automatically unlock when you’re wearing an unlocked Apple Watch. 

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