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iOS 14.5 update release date, news and the new features it brings to your iPhone

iOS 14.5
(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 14.5 is the new version of iOS, and it's officially here. If you've got an iPhone, you'll be getting a notification soon to say you can download the software now.

While it isn't as big an update as we expect from iOS 15 - that isn’t expected to land in its finished form until September - it’s still adding a bunch of new features and improvements to your iPhone.

What does iOS 14.5 bring? For starters, handy upgrades like an alternative to Face ID that lets you unlock your iPhone by wearing an Apple Watch. There are also new Siri voices (and no more default voice), and a way to recalibrate your iPhone's battery life estimates to correct faulty readings. 

Unfortunately, that last feature is only for the iPhone 11 range at first, though we can't imagine why it won't come to other Apple phones in the future. Plus, if you have an iPad you'll be able to download iPadOS 14.5 soon too.

Below, we’ve highlighted the ten best things coming to your phones with iOS 14.5, including how they work and why you should give them a try.

Latest news

iOS 14.5 has begun rolling out around the world, so you're able to download the latest software onto your iPhone now.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next upgrade for your iPhone
  • When is it out? Right now
  • How much will it cost? It's free

iOS 14.5 release date and beta

iOS 14.5 is now over, and you'll find the new update is being rolled out to your iPhone or iPad now. If you have an iPad, this software will be called iPadOS 14.5 rather than iOS 14.5.

Apple revealed at its April 20 Spring Loaded event that the new software would land the week of April 26, and it proved to be right on time. Betas for the software are now over, so you're now able to download the final version of iOS 14.5 directly from Apple.

Everything that iOS 14.5 brings to your iPhone

1. Mask support for Face ID

Face ID was great until we all started wearing masks, but with iOS 14.5 Apple is making it great again, at least for Apple Watch owners.

That’s because as long as your Apple Watch is unlocked, you’ll now be able to use it to authenticate your identity on your phone, meaning you can simply raise your phone as if to use Face ID, and it will unlock, with a buzz on your wrist to tell you your watch has done the heavy lifting.

However, while this will work for unlocking your iPhone, it doesn’t currently work for other things that rely on Face ID, such as authenticating purchases. Still, it's a handy workaround for users who have had facial recognition blocked when wearing face masks.

2. App Tracking Transparency

iOS 14.5

An App Tracking notification (Image credit: Apple)

iOS 14.5 also includes a big new privacy feature called App Tracking Transparency. This require apps to get your permission before sharing your activity and data with websites and apps owned by other companies.

This sharing of data is often used for adverts, with Facebook for example making big use of it, but with App Tracking Transparency you’ll be able to opt out if you’d prefer, and Apple is insisting that users still have full access to apps even if they do opt out of this.

3. A change to your music players

Previously, we'd thought this change meant that you'd be able to change your default music player in iOS 14.5. A new update from Apple has confirmed that it doesn't work in the exact way we had expected though.

The new feature allows you to better use your own choice of music players rather than your iPhone defaulting to Apple Music, but it isn't a specific change you can make within a Settings menu.

Instead, Siri will use its learning of how you listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts. When you ask it to play a specific piece of audio, it'll then ask you where you want to listen to it. 

Then it'll gently integrate that into your future listening, and that likely means that in the future your iPhone will learn you listen to music on Spotify and podcasts on the Apple Podcasts app.

4. New Emojis!

iOS 14.5

Some of the new emoji in iOS 14.5 (Image credit: Apple)

Privacy features and easier Face ID unlocks are great, but many of you are only downloading iOS 14.5 for the emojis. Thankfully, over 200 new emojis will be added to your phone once iOS 14.5 is downloaded.

The vast majority of the 217 new emojis are different variations of couples kissing. You can customize the genders, skin tones, and hair of both partners, and choose whether or not they're kissing or simply next to one another with a heart between them.

Beyond those, there are a few other new emoji: a relieved emoji exhaling; a face with spinning eyes; a face shrouded in fog; hearts either on fire or on the mend; and a woman with a beard.

5. PS5 and Xbox Series X controller support

If you’re a gamer then you’ll probably appreciate the addition of support for PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers as part of iOS 14.5. It should be a handy upgrade for anyone who owns one of these consoles, especially those who also make use of Apple Arcade.

Arguably this would be even more useful for gaming on an Apple TV, and while the feature isn’t yet confirmed for tvOS, we’d expect it will soon be added to that too.

6. Crowdsourced alerts in Apple Maps

iOS 14.5

How Apple Maps looks in iOS 14.5 (Image credit: Apple)

Many of us aren’t really going anywhere at the moment, but for those who do have much use for Apple Maps, there’s a potentially handy new feature in iOS 14.5.

You can now report accidents, hazards, and speed checks on your journey, and presumably if enough people flag the same thing a warning about it will appear on Apple Maps.

7. No more default voice for Siri

For years Siri has been defaulting to a female voice (or a male one in a few countries), but with iOS 14.5, you'll be prompted to select which voice you want when first setting up your phone, with no default pre-selected.

This change also comes alongside two new voices for English-speaking users to choose from.

8. Battery calibration

iOS 14.5 also lets you recalibrate your phone's battery, so your phone can provide more accurate readings as to the remaining life. If you find the readings currently seem off, this could be worth doing.

Oddly this feature only seems to be supported by the iPhone 11 range right now, but we'd expect it would make its way to other models too.

 9. AirTag support

iOS 14.5

An Apple AirTag (Image credit: Apple)

Ready to keep track of your most important valuables? To use Apple AirTags – which let you track belongings using a Precision Finding tracking feature – you'll need to download iOS 14.5.

You can read our linked review to learn more. We were generally impressed with the tracking/ privacy features and compact design, even though they're a bit pricey.

One thing to keep in mind: you can use AirTags with any iOS 14.5-compatible iPhone, but only iPhone 11 and up can actually track AirTags using the 'Find My' app.

10. New 5G features

The iPhone 12 added 5G support, but anyone using dual SIM mode was stuck with 4G speeds. That's all changing with iOS 14.5, which adds Dual SIM support for 5G connectivity. You'll now be able to connect both cards to 5G-enabled accounts.

It's also enhancing its Smart Data mode features, which optimizes your iPhone 12's 5G usage to preserve battery life and reduce your monthly data usage.

James Rogerson
James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps.