iOS 14.5 beta 2 is here for developers – here’s how it changes your iPhone

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The iOS 14.5 beta 2 is live for developers, bringing eagerly-awaited new features to iPhones – like bypassing FaceID to unlock them with your Apple Watch.

This might be the biggest change to the way users interact with their iPhones in years. Apple’s choice to dispense with the Touch ID Home button with the iPhone X in 2017 to go all-in on facial recognition using Face ID hadn’t been much of an issue since, but widespread mask-wearing through the Covid-19 pandemic has extremely limited its usefulness. 

Thus, this new method included in the iOS 14.5 developer beta 2 to unlock your iPhone by flipping on a nearby Apple Watch could be a helpful workaround, though it requires owning  one of Apple’s smartwatches.

Like other developer-only betas, interested users will need to enroll in the Apple Developer Program and register their device to get access to the iOS 14.5 dev beta 2. Or you can wait for the iOS 14.5 public beta, which we expect to launch later this week.

Other iOS 14.5 beta 2 features

iOS 14.5 beta 2 for developers also brings a few other quality-of-life upgrades, like a new Apple Maps feature to report traffic incidents and speed traps, just like Waze. Starting with this update, you should also be able to start using Spotify or other music streaming services as your default audio player for Siri, according to 9to5Mac. Apple Fitness Plus will also get support for AirPlay 2.

The other long-awaited feature that should come with iOS 14.5 beta 2 is App Tracking Transparency, which will require apps to ask user permission before tracking their activity and data across other apps and websites. Notably, Apple forces apps to provide their full functionality to users even if they do not opt in to this tracking. 

Last but not least, iOS 14.5 beta 2 is adding a whopping 200-plus emoji to the catalogue, per 9to5Mac, including a flaming heart, further diversifying couple emojis with new skin tone and LGBTQ+ pairings, and updating old emojis – like replacing the vaccine image with one less grisly.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.