iOS 14.5 adds Face ID-free iPhone unlock, App Tracking Transparency and more

iOS 14.5
(Image credit: Apple)

The iOS 14.5 update has finally been released after a series of public betas, introducing more features than any other version since iOS 14 launched late in 2020. You can download it for free on all iPhones already compatible with previous iOS versions.

iOS 14.5 brings several interesting and helpful updates. First up is the most helpful, so long as you’ve got the right equipment: you can bypass Face ID on your iPhone and unlock it while wearing an Apple Watch, making it easier to use your Apple phone while wearing a mask. This feature works with iPhone X and newer phones along with Apple Watch 3 and newer smartwatches.

Other big updates are less exciting but not less welcome, including support for PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers, more diverse English voice options for Siri, and the new App Tracking Transparency rollout requiring apps to ask user permission before tracking activity elsewhere and forcing listings on the App Store to disclose exactly what data is being tracked, and more – check Apple’s blog post for all the details.

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iOS 14.5

(Image credit: Apple)

Got AirTags? You'll need iOS 14.5

Apple AirTags are the newly-announced Tile-like accessories that you can clip to objects and harness the network of iPhones and Apple devices to pinpoint where they are. And to track them, you'll need an iPhone running iOS 14.5.

Other new features let you report road incidents or speed checks directly within Apple Maps (only in the US and China right now). If driving, you can make a report through Siri, while passengers can use the manual reporting feature. The app also expands its 'Share ETA' feature to include walking or cycling rates, and users can finally use the feature within CarPlay using Siri or keyboard controls.

iOS 14.5

(Image credit: Apple)

Other first-party Apple apps have gotten visual and interface redesigns, including Apple Podcasts and Apple News. In addition, Apple Fitness Plus users can stream their audio and video to AirPlay 2-enabled TVs and devices.

iPhone 12 models also get Dual SIM support for 5G connectivity, presumably to allow both to connect to 5G-enabled accounts. Smart Data Mode has also been tweaked to better optimize battery and data consumption.

Voice Control for Accessibility is expanding English support to Australia and Canada, as well as Spanish in Mexico, Spain, and the US.

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.