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iOS 14.5: What You Need to Know & Why It’s Important

The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system for iPhone and iPod touch — iOS 14.5 — is now available. In this article, we’ll point out the features of the update and why you may wish to install it soon.

How to Install iOS 14.5

iOS 14.5 in Software Update
iOS 14.5 in Software Update

The installation process is familiar to anyone who has done an update previously. To install the update manually:

  1. Launch the Settings app
  2. Tap on General
  3. Tap on Software Update
  4. Read the release notes, then tap the Download and Install button

Of course, you can also have iOS 14.5 installed automatically. Just make sure Automatic Updates are enabled in Software Update. When the update is available for your device and it is plugged in, locked, and on a Wi-Fi network, the update is installed.

Features of iOS 14.5

As with all updates to iOS, this latest version is a mixture of feature enhancements, bug fixes, and security improvements.

Unlock an iPhone With Face ID While Wearing a Face Mask

Last year when COVID-19 made wearing face masks a necessity, we told you about a method that allowed Face ID to work even while wearing a face mask. Unfortunately, that method wasn’t foolproof, and it seemed to work less frequently with every iOS update.

Now if you have an iPhone X or newer with iOS 14.5 or later, and an Apple Watch running watchOS 7.4 or later (also released on 4/26/21), you can use the Watch to unlock your iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask.

It’s important to know that there is a setting you’ll need to make before this works – I found out the hard way. After you’ve updated to iOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4, launch Settings and tap on Face ID & Passcode. Scroll down to “Unlock with Apple Watch,” and then enable your Watch to unlock your iPhone:

Be sure to enable Unlock with Apple Watch in Face ID & Passcode
Be sure to enable Unlock with Apple Watch in Face ID & Passcode

When the Apple Watch is on your wrist and unlocked, you just need to glance at the iPhone and the Apple Watch unlocks the iPhone. A haptic “buzz” indicates that the iPhone has been unlocked.

Siri Enhancements

Siri no longer has a default voice. When a user is setting up Siri for the first time, there is a choice between four different American voices. On devices that already have Siri set up, you can launch Settings, scroll down to Siri & Search, then tap on Siri Voice. On the screen that appears, select one of the four voices.

Maps users can now report an incident using Siri
Maps users can now report an incident using Siri

Two of the voices are male, while two are female. I found American (Voice 1) to be quite pleasant and usable. Your mileage, of course, may vary. All of the voices sound much more realistic and powered by Apple’s Neural Text to Speech technology.

Siri also gained new capabilities in iOS 14.5. In Group FaceTime, it’s possible to initiate calls with multiple contacts through Siri. For users of AirPods and compatible Beats headphones, Siri can announce incoming calls. If an iPhone owner needs assistance and can’t physically make a call, Siri can now call emergency contacts.

In Apple Maps, Siri can let a user report an accident, hazard, or speed check on their route. During navigation, the user just needs to say things like “There’s a crash up ahead” or “There’s something on the road”, and that information is reported. Maps users can also ask Siri to share their ETA when walking or cycling – previously, this was only possible when in a vehicle.

More Privacy Controls

Apple is becoming the “Anti-Facebook” by making it easier for users of all of its operating systems to gain control over their personal information. iOS 14.5’s App Tracking Transparency requires apps to ask users for permission before tracking their data across websites or apps owned by other companies. That is a direct poke at advertisers, as is the new requirement to ask users for permission to share their data with data brokers.

Apps can ask users for permission, and in Settings, users can see which apps have asked for permission to track. Users can change their choice of permission at any time.

Some of the new emoji introduced in iOS 14.5
Some of the new emoji introduced in iOS 14.5

New Emoji

Apple continues to up the emoji game with the ability to select different skin tones in the couple kissing and couple with heart emoji.

There are also some totally new emoji, including an exhaling face, a face in clouds, and my personal favorite – the face with spiral eyes. Doesn’t everyone feel like they’re going crazy at some point and need to send that face with spiral eyes emoji?

Apple Podcasts Redesign

The Apple Podcasts app now has redesigned show pages which make it easier to start listening. There’s a new option to save and download episodes as they appear so they’re automatically added to a podcast library.

To help find new shows, Apple Podcasts adds categories, curated collections, and “Top Charts” to the Search tab.

AirTag Support

Apple announced its new AirTags during the recent “Spring Loaded” event. They’re small battery-powered devices that give Apple users the ability to add almost any physical object to the Find My app.

iOS 14.5 now adds support for AirTags.

Apple News

Are you a subscriber to News+? If so, there’s now a redesigned News+ tab in the Apple News app to make it easier for you to find, download, and manage. your magazines and newspaper issues.

An all-new search experience lets all Apple News users – not just News+ subscribers – find topics, channels and stories of interest more quickly.

Apple Fitness+

Subscribers to Apple Fitness+ no longer need to have an Apple TV device in order to stream workouts to their TVs. If they have one of the new AirPlay 2-enabled TVs or other devices, they can view their workout audio and video directly to those devices.

Reminders app gains sorting and printing options
Reminders app gains sorting and printing options


Finally, users of the iOS Reminders app can sort by title, priority, due date, or creation date. Apple also added the option to print reminder lists.

5G Improvements

Have an iPhone 12? iOS 14.5 adds Dual SIM support for 5G connectivity, making it possible to make the best use of available 5G networks.

The improvements also offer enhancements to Smart Data Mode to provide better battery life and less data usage on 5G networks.

Voice Control for Accessibility

Voice Control for Accessibility is useful to those who can’t use their hands to navigate iPhone controls. Apple has added support in iOS 14.5 for English Voice Control for Accessibility in Australia and Canada, as well as the Spanish control in Mexico, Spain, and the United States.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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  • The opening the up iPhone with a face mask on option doesn’t appear in the settings on my up-to-date iPhone X. The Apple Watch is also up to date. What gives?

  • Podcasts app is a total mess! My carefully maintained list of things I wanted to retain was totally lost, chronological order doesn’t seem to be retained, and it’s next to impossible (for me at least) to figure out what old episodes I haven’t listened to (only the newest is shown). Aughhh!

    • Not just you — same thing happened to me. It’s strange: the state of some shows is totally ruined, while others survived relatively unscathed.

      Everything seems more taps away than it used to be. Find out out something simple and obvious such as HOW LONG AN EPISODE IS or HOW MUCH LONGER TO GO FIR THIS EPISODE takes extra taps. There’s a pointless “cover” page for every podcast. Why do I want a cover page?