When might Apple release iOS 14.5 to the public?

As Apple continues beta testing iOS 14.5, speculation is starting to mount about a potential release to the public. Currently, all signs point to a release sometime in the early spring. Read on as we recap everything we know about iOS 14.5 so far.

What’s new in iOS 14.5?

The biggest change in iOS 14.5 is a new feature that allows you to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch when you’re wearing a face mask. This feature also requires watchOS 7.4, which we expect to be released to the public alongside iOS 14.5.

After you update and enable this feature, your iPhone will unlock automatically with your Apple Watch the next time you wear a face mask. When your iPhone unlocks, you’ll receive a haptic feedback notification on your Apple Watch telling you that your iPhone was unlocked by the Apple Watch. There is also the option to quickly “Lock iPhone” directly from that Apple Watch notification.

iOS 14.5 also includes a major upgrade for privacy in the form of App Tracking Transparency, a feature that was slated for the initial release of iOS 14 but delayed until now.

App Tracking Transparency is a new feature that requires apps to request permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites. Under Settings, users will also be able to see which apps have requested permission to track so they can make changes as they see fit.

For example, once this requirement goes into effect, you’ll see a popup when you open the Facebook app saying that Facebook would like to track you across other apps and websites. There will be two options from which to choose: “Ask App not to Track” or “Allow.” The feature has already raised anger from Facebook.

Next up, iOS 14.5 brings a new Siri intelligence feature that helps the virtual assistant adapt to your preferred music application. Apple has explained that because there’s no specific setting in iOS where users can configure a “default” music service, so this feature is designed specifically as a Siri intelligence feature.

This means that when you ask Siri to play a song for the first time after installing iOS 14.5, Siri will ask you which app you want to use. After tapping one of the options, it will become the default for the next commands. This works for apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music.

Other new features in iOS 14.5:

  • New “Items” tab in the Find My app for tracking AirTags and other third-party accessories
  • iOS 14.5 code suggests support for Apple Card Family Sharing, but it’s unclear if this feature will make the cut for the final release
  • Horizontal boot screen on the iPad
  • Updates to to the Music app, including swipe gestures, a lyrics sharing feature, and more
  • AirPlay 2 support for Fitness+ workouts
  • Waze-like features in Apple Maps
  • PS5 / Xbox Series X controller support

iOS 14.5 release

Apple doesn’t generally pre-announced the release of iOS point updates, but this year, we did get one hint on when we expect iOS 14.5 to be released.

As mentioned earlier, one of the key new features coming with iOS 14.5 is the new App Tracking Transparency privacy feature. Apple has said that App Tracking Transparency will “roll out broadly in early spring with an upcoming release of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14.”

The first day of spring is March 20, which is a Saturday. This means that iOS 14.5 could be released to the public as soon as Monday, March 22. For comparison’s sake, last year, Apple released iOS 13.4 on March 24 following the announcement of the Magic Trackpad for iPad. iOS 13.4 went through five developer and public beta tests.

But with that being said, it’s more likely to come out later than that. Here’s why.

iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 could also be tied to the release of new hardware products from Apple. Rumors have suggested that Apple could release AirTags and new iPad Pro models in March, and AirTags specifically rely on new features in iOS 14.5.

This means that Apple could announce AirTags and subsequently release iOS 14.5 to the public with the new Find My features. Currently, rumors indicate that Apple will hold a virtual event on March 23 to announce AirTags, new iPad Pros, and potentially other new hardware. If this pans out, then it’s likely iOS 14.5 will be released after that event.

Wrap up

As you can see, we’re getting close to the public release of iOS 14.5, watchOS 7.4, and iPadOS 14.5. In fact, we could be within three weeks of that release. What are you most excited to see when iOS 14.5 is released to the public? Do you plan on using the new Apple Watch Unlock feature? Let us know down in the comments!

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