04/28 Update below. This post was originally published on April 27
Apple iOS 14.5 has been released after more than two months of public beta testing. This is an unusually long period, but iOS 14.5 is an unusually feature-packed release full of significant upgrades and fixes (it even got a press release). Unfortunately, after Apple’s excellent recent record, iOS 14.5 also contains more problems than normal as well. Here’s everything you need to know.
Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up to date if/when new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week.
May 03 Update: Final verdict below
Who Is It For?
Apple iOS 14.5 has been released for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and 7th generation iPod touch. If you don’t receive an automatic update notification, the update can be triggered manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running a later version of iOS 14 when you read this (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone before iOS 14.5 will show up.
iPad owners, Apple has moved you to iPadOS. This is not an iPadOS-focused guide, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides.
The Deal Breakers
Jailbreakers, upgrading to iOS 14.5 will break your jailbreak and with popular jailbreaking teams Unc0ver (limited to iOS 14.3) and checkra1n (limited Apple devices running A9(X) chipsets and older) falling behind, you will need to hold. Possibly, for some time.
There are also reasons why non-jailbreakers should hold too. After several polished releases, iOS 14.5 introduces a number of problems. Most significant is a bug disabling the ability to toggle App Tracking Transparency (ATT), arguably the biggest new feature. This has been widely reported by upgraders and both iPhone and iPad users are reporting ATT fails to list any apps. I’ve written a dedicated post on this here.
In addition, iOS 14.5 is either breaking or jumbling Podcasts while others are reporting bugs with CarPlay, delayed unlocking via Apple Watch (see feature list below) and isolated reports of connectivity issues with AirPods, high battery drain and app switching crashes.
04/28 Update: Apple has added clarity to the irregular behaviour of ATT in a new support document, but it still leaves a lot of questions to be answered. You can read more about this here. In addition, users are reporting that the new ‘Report’ button in Apple Maps for reporting accidents, hazards or speeds traps is missing. There may be a server-side fix which Apple can roll out, otherwise it is looking increasingly likely at an urgent iOS 14.5.1 bug fix will be needed to address this and the growing number of issues iPhone and iPad owners are discovering with iOS 14.5.
So What Do You Get?
Apple iOS 14.5 contains perhaps the longest release notes I’ve seen outside of a generational iOS release:
Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch
- Ability to unlock your iPhone X and later with Apple Watch Series 3 and later when you attempt to use Face ID while wearing a face mask
AirTag and Find My
- Support for AirTag to keep track of and find your important items like your keys, wallet, backpack and more, privately and securely in the Find My app
- Precision Finding uses visual, audible, and haptic feedback to guide you directly to your nearby AirTag using Ultra Wideband provided by the U1 chip on iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models
- AirTag can be located by playing a sound via the built-in speaker
- The Find My network with hundreds of millions of devices can help you find your AirTag, even when it isn’t nearby
- Lost Mode notifies you when your AirTag is found, and you can enter a phone number where you can be contacted
- Support for separate skin tones for each individual in all variations of the couple kissing emoji and couple with heart emoji
- New face emojis, heart emojis, woman with a beard emoji
- Siri now includes more diverse voice options
- Incoming calls can be announced with Siri, including who is calling, when you’re wearing your AirPods or compatible Beats headphones, and you can answer hands-free
- Group FaceTime calls are supported by asking Siri to FaceTime a list of contacts or a group name from Messages
- Emergency contacts can be called by asking Siri
- App Tracking Transparency lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers
- Share your favorite lyrics using Messages, Facebook, and Instagram Stories, and subscribers can play the snippet in Messages without leaving the conversation
- City charts showcase what’s popular in over 100 cities from all over the world
- Podcasts Show Pages are redesigned to make it easier to start listening
- Option to save and download episodes, automatically adding them to your Library for quick access
- Download behavior and notification settings can be customized on a show-by-show basis
- Top Charts and popular categories in Search help you discover new shows
- Dual SIM support enables 5G connectivity on the line that’s using cellular data on iPhone 12 models
- Smart Data Mode improvements further optimize your experience on 5G networks for better battery life and data usage on iPhone 12 models
- 5G international roaming enabled on supported carriers on iPhone 12 models
- Redesigned News+ tab enables Apple News+ subscribers to quickly find, download, and manage magazine and newspaper issues
- All-new Search experience that helps you find relevant topics, channels, and stories
- Accidents, hazards, or speed checks along your route can be reported by telling Siri on your iPhone or on CarPlay
- Estimated time of arrival (ETA) can be shared when cycling or walking, in addition to driving, by asking Siri or tapping on the route card at the bottom of the screen, then tapping Share ETA
- Ability to sort reminders by Title, Priority, Due Date, or Creation date
- Option to print your reminder lists
- Translation playback speed can be adjusted by long pressing the play button
- Xbox Series X S Wireless Controller or Sony PS5 DualSenseTM Wireless Controller support
- Ability to stream audio and video content from Apple Fitness+ workouts to AirPlay 2-enabled TVs and devices
- ETA in Apple Maps can be easily shared while driving with new Siri or keyboard controls in CarPlay
There’s a lot to process here. Standout features are mask-friendly unlocking via Apple Watch (despite some reports it can be slow), Apple’s (admittedly buggy) ATT launch, Waze-inspired hazard reporting on Apple Maps, support for AirTags and major upgrades for Siri, Reminders and Podcasts (though the latter is also troubled at launch).
In addition to this there are a wealth of bug fixes:
- Messages at the bottom of the thread may be hidden by the keyboard under certain circumstances
- Deleted messages may still appear in Spotlight search
- Messages may persistently fail to send texts in some threads
- Mail would not load new emails for some users until restarting the device
- Call blocking and identification section may not appear in Phone settings
- iCloud Tabs may not appear in Safari
- iCloud Keychain could be prevented from turning off
- Reminders created via Siri may be unintentionally set for early morning hours
- Battery health reporting system will recalibrate maximum battery capacity and peak performance capability on iPhone 11 models to address inaccurate estimates of battery health reporting for some users
- Optimization to reduce the appearance of a dim glow that may appear at reduced brightness levels with black backgrounds on iPhone 12 models
- AirPods audio routing to incorrect device for Automatic Switching
- AirPods Automatic Switching notifications might be missing or duplicated
Lastly, Apple’s official security page lists more than 50 fixes for vulnerabilities. You can find a breakdown of some of the most significant here.
Apple iOS 14.5 Verdict: Hold
For many, the rich feature set of iOS 14.5 will prove irresistible and that is understandable. For everyone else, however, the number of problems being reported in the first 24 hours after release does warrant concern. I also expect Apple to release an iOS 14.5.1 update as a priority. So, if you can, resist the urge to upgrade for now.
Note: I will keep this guide updated and offer my final verdict in a week.
May 03 Update – Final verdict
As expected, Apple has rushed iOS 14.5.1 out just one week after the release of iOS 14.5. This provides a fix to the ATT problems. So for those who waited as I recommended, a more polished update is now available. You can expect my Upgrade Guide verdict tomorrow (I always require 24h after release to assess the initial feedback from upgraders). So check back tomorrow and give iOS 14.5 a miss.
The Road Ahead
Apple iOS 14.6 is in beta testing. The initial release doesn’t include any obvious new features, but as a ‘major point’ release so I would expect some to be added in subsequent betas. That said, I strongly suspect we will be getting iOS 14.5.1 long before this is released.
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