Apple released iOS 14.5 beta 1 to developers, and as you’ve no doubt heard, it’s quite the update. Headlined by the ability to unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch while wearing a face mask, iOS 14.5 beta 1 brings forth a number of practical improvements and overall enhancements to iPhone. Watch our hands-on commentary as we discuss the top iOS 14.5 beta 1 changes and features.
What’s new in iOS 14.5 beta 1?
Updated Software Update screens
Both the Software Update page in the Settings app and the Watch app have received more informative details regarding updates. Apple now includes a green check mark to indicate that you’re on the latest version of software, along with a message stating that “Your iPhone is up to date with all of the latest bug fixes and security enhancements.” In addition, iOS 14.5 now displays a time stamp that shows the last time you successfully checked for an update.
Unlock with Apple Watch
As noted, the biggest feature to come to iOS 14.5 is support for Apple Watch Unlock when Face ID detects a face with a mask. Users must be wearing an unlocked Apple Watch protected by a passcode in order for the feature to work. When attempting to unlock your iPhone using Face ID while wearing a face mask, you’ll feel a vibration on your Apple Watch, along with a notification that your iPhone was unlocked successfully.
Horizontal boot screen iPad
When connected to the Magic Keyboard, iPadOS 14.5 will display the startup Apple logo in horizontal/landscape mode instead of the default portrait orientation. If you restart your iPad when disconnected from the Magic Keyboard, even if you’re holding the device in landscape mode, the startup screen will appear in portrait mode.
As a side note, iPadOS 14.5 now supports emoji search, which iPhone users have been enjoying since iOS 14’s release, but has been inexplicably missing on iPad up until now.
Cellular connectivity updates
One of the biggest changes found in iOS 14.5 is the ability to enable dual SIM functionality while maintaining 5G connectivity. In previous versions of iOS, enabling the iPhone 12’s dual SIM feature would cause cellular connectivity to fall back to standard LTE. With iOS 14.5, users have the option of keeping both connections active simultaneously while still enjoying the benefits of 5G.
In addition to 5G dual SIM support, iOS 14.5 surfaces a new 5G Standalone cellular switch in system settings. Initial 5G implementations piggybacked on existing LTE networks to speed up adoption of 5G, but this method imposes propagation limits based on the LTE limitations. With Standalone (or SA) 5G, the limits of LTE are no longer in play. Keep in mind that your carrier will need to support 5G SA, and Apple warns that enabling SA at this early stage may cause degraded performance.
Apple Music updates
Apple Music gets some noteworthy updates in iOS 14.5, headlined by a new “Made For You” section under the Library tab. Made For You houses all of the algorithmic-curated music suggestions that are normally found within playlists like Favorites Mix, Chill Mix, and New Music Mix within the Listen Now tab.
Another handy feature found in iOS 14.5 is the inclusion of release dates for all music content featured on Apple Music. Prior versions of iOS would showcase release info, but in this latest beta version of iOS, users are treated with the exact release month, day, and year.
Users will also be happy to know that the scrolling metadata view on the Now Playing Lock Screen interface has now returned. This is a big improvement over the truncated metadata view that’s been around in the last few versions.
Reminders app enhancements
It’s crazy that we’ve not been able to sort Reminders based on parameters like modification date or title up until now, but at least we finally receive such features in iOS 14.5. Users can still sort reminder lists manually, but now there are several metadata sorting options, along with ascending and descending preferences.
The ability to directly print a reminders list joins the updated sorting options, allowing users to quickly send a list to a configured AirPrint printer.
Updated Podcast app
The stock Podcasts app gets lots of subtle changes and enhancements alongside a bigger update to the look and feel of the official show page for each podcast. New enhancements include a full-bleed header with color-matched backgrounds and a refreshed Library page with new glyphs.
Apple Fitness+ Workouts AirPlay 2 support
AirPlay 2 compatibility comes to Apple Fitness+ workouts, allowing users to stream workouts directly to an AirPlay 2-compatible set-top box or television. The problem with this method, as opposed to just playing on an Apple TV or iPad, is that you lose on-screen metric support. But that might not be a huge deal since metric details remain readily available on your Apple Watch.
Maps app redesigned guides
Apple has redesigned the Guides feature on the Maps app, which now includes a full-bleed header, redesigned buttons, and beautiful animations when minimizing and maximizing each guide.
PS5 / Xbox Series X controller support
Support for next-generation console controllers, including the Playstation 5 Dual Sense controller and the Xbox Series X controller, is now available in 14.5. Next-gen controller support is a welcome new addition for controller-compatible Apple Arcade games, and for taking advantage of console-centric remote play features.
Dedicated Search tab in News app
Similar to the Search tab in the Music app and TV app, the News app gains a dedicated search interface for quickly finding channels, topics, or stories.
Siri interface updates
Those using the Type to Siri accessibility option will notice an updated interface that no longer opens to a dedicated Siri screen, allowing the user to maintain context of their current position in iOS. This update is similar to the changes first implemented in iOS 14 when invoking Siri using voice. You’ll also find an updated interface that appears when sending iMessages via Siri.
Apple Card updates
Although these updates are not-yet user facing, we’ve also highlighted a couple of forthcoming changes related to Apple Card:
- Apple Card Family feature for multi-user accounts
- New financial health features coming to the Wallet app