iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 bring an array of new features ‘next week’

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iOS 14.5 will debut before the end of April.
The wait for iOS 14.5 is almost over — it’ll be out before the end of April. The same goes for iPadOS 14.5.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple revealed on Tuesday that iOS 14.5 and the iPad equivalent will reach customers iPhones and tablets some time “next week.” These include a rush of new features, like unlocking an iPhone with an Apple Watch. And a controversial change that make it harder for apps to track users for ads.

To help make the launches possible, developers were given access to the release candidates for these upcoming operating system versions on Tuesday. They can both look for bugs and  test their own applications with the new OS versions.

watchOS 7.4 and tvOS 14.5 release candidates were seeded to developers at the same time. But a macOS 11.3 RC didn’t come out yet.

What’s new in iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5

Apple’s own description of the update hits the high points of what users should expect when upgrading their handset:

“iOS 14.5 includes the option to unlock iPhone with Apple Watch while wearing a face mask, adds support for AirTag, and introduces separate skin tone variations for emoji with couples. Siri adds more diverse voice options, and App Tracking Transparency lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.”

The description for iPadOS 14.5 is nearly the same but omits the part about unlocking with Apple Watch as that feature isn’t supported by tablets.

Previous betas let the world know about these features. Unlocking iPhone with Apple Watch drew considerable attention, as did the new Siri voices. New emojis always have fans. But App Tracking Transparency has supporters and detractors.

Apple officially took the wraps off AirTag item-tracking tags on Tuesday. And it was this announcement that revealed the timeline for the debut of these OS upgrades. The press release says, “AirTag requires iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 14.5 or later, or iPad running iPadOS 14.5 or later. These software updates will be available starting next week.”

Not yet available publicly

At present, iOS 14.5 RC, iPadOS 14.5 RC, watchOS 7.4 RC and tvOS 14.5 RC are only for developers. But, if Apple follows its previous habits, public beta versions will be along fairly soon.

In the mean time, getting access to these pre-release editions requires joining the Apple Developer Program, which costs $99 a year.