iOS 14.5 adds many new features

Yesterday, Apple released iOS 14.5 for the iPhone along with similar updates for the iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.  This was a major update with lots of new features.  If you want to go deep on every single thing that is new, I recommend .  But here are my four favorite new features.

Unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask

For the past year+ of the pandemic, I've envied my wife's iPhone with Touch ID every time that I tried to unlock my Face ID iPhone while wearing a mask.  It is annoying to want to look at my iPhone in a grocery store, elevator, and many other places and needed to type in my (long) passcode to unlock my device.  Ugh.  But that is now over for folks with an Apple Watch (Series 3 or later, running watchOS 7.4 or later).

With iOS 14.5, you can turn on the option to unlock your iPhone automatically when you are wearing a mask and an Apple Watch.  But first, you need to turn this feature on.  Here is how you do that.

In the iPhone's Settings app, tap Face ID & Passcode.  Next, enter your passcode.

Next, scroll down to the new section called Unlock with Apple Watch.  Turn on that switch, and you will see an explanation of how the feature works.

That's it.  Now that you have this feature turned on, here is how it works.

When you try to unlock your iPhone and the iPhone senses that you have a mask on — specifically, when it senses that your mouth is covered — your iPhone checks to see if you are wearing your Apple Watch.  If so, it checks to see if the reason that your Apple Watch is unlocked is that you did so by entering the passcode on the Apple Watch.  If yes, then your Apple Watch tells your iPhone that you are already authenticated, and the iPhone unlocks.  The whole process takes a second or less.  At the same time, your Apple Watch taps your wrist to give you an alert that the watch has just unlocked your iPhone:

There are lots of safeguards built-in to this process.  For example, if your Apple Watch taps you to tell you that it just unlocked your iPhone and that is not what you intended, you can quickly tap the button on your Apple Watch screen.  That will immediately lock your iPhone, and at that point, it can ONLY be unlocked by entering your passcode, not with Face ID — either with or without a mask.

Also, this whole process only works if your Apple Watch is on your wrist and your iPhone is fairly close.  My son tested this feature with me last night.  When he tried to unlock my iPhone by holding it on the other side of the room from me, it was too far from my Apple Watch to work.  But when he got within 6-7 feet of my watch, it worked.  So if you have this feature enabled, you do need to pay attention if someone is close to you and picks up your iPhone.  But if they steal your iPhone and run away, the Apple Watch won't unlock it.

Another security feature is that if the reason that your Apple Watch is unlocked is that you used your iPhone to automatically unlock your watch, then your watch cannot also automatically unlock your iPhone.  It is only when you unlocked your watch with your passcode that this works.  I enter the passcode every morning when I put on my Apple Watch, so if you do it the same way, you are ready to go.

I'm very excited to have this feature, and in my tests yesterday, it worked great.  Of course, I look forward to a day when I don't have to wear a mask at all, but this new feature will make it much easier in the interim.  I just wish that Apple had added this feature last year.

App Tracking Transparency

In iOS 14.5, if an app wants to track your activity and then share it with other apps, the app now needs to ask for your permission before doing so.  Facebook and some other companies have opposed this feature strenuously, taking the position that they ought to be able to track you without telling you about it, and they complain that if they have to ask for permission, people will say no.  But the fact that many people will say no when given the choice seems more like an argument for the Apple approach over the Facebook approach.

For an excellent overview of this feature, watch by Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal in which she discusses the feature with Apple executives Craig Federighi.

I haven't actually seen one of these requests from an app yet, but I presume I will soon.  I like the fact that Apple is trying to do what it can to enhance privacy and put the control back in the hands of the user.

New emoji

There are a few updated and changed emoji in iOS 14.5.  For example, there are three new faces:  Exhaling Face, Face with Spiral Eyes, and Face in Clouds:

Also, the Syringe emoji no longer has blood in it, making it more appropriate to use to indicate vaccination:

On the iPad, it is now easier to search for emoji because you can do so by name on the iPad, just like you have been able to do on an iPhone.

Share lyrics

There are a number of new features in the Music app, but here is my favorite.  Apple Music already had the ability to show you the lyrics to most songs, but now you can share lyrics — the specific lines that you select.  When you are looking at the lyrics in a song, just press down on one line of lyrics.  You will then have the option to select additional lines of lyrics, and then you can share a card showing just those lyrics with someone else, such as via the Messages app.  The recipient will see the lyrics that you selected.  And if they tap the image, they will start playing the song at the point where those lyrics are being sung.

I presume that both parties need to subscribe to Apple Music for this to work on both sides.  Nevertheless, this is a very fun way to quote lyrics to someone else.

Support for items in the Find My app

I discussed the expansion of Find My to include items .  And after I wrote that post, Apple introduced its own AirTag product, so there are now both third-party and first-party products that can work with Find My.  But you need iOS 14.5 to make it work.

I ordered an AirTag 4-pack this past Friday, and they are supposed to be delivered to me this Friday.  If you also have plans to use an AirTag or similar products from third-parties, make sure you are running iOS 14.5.


Apple's WWDC conference is coming in June, and I'm sure that Apple will use that opportunity to preview iOS 15 before it is released later this year.  But even with iOS 15 now perhaps just four to five months away, I'm glad that Apple is still adding new features to iOS 14 so that we can start using these new features today.