Apple held its first blockbuster event of 2021 last week. Dubbed ‘Spring Loaded’, the Californian company announced a redesigned iMac, super-powered new iPad Pro, AirTags to keep tabs on the location of your bag and wallet, and a gorgeous new purple colour for the iPhone 12. Although CEO Tim Cook and co. didn’t mention iOS 14.5 during the 60-minute keynote, the release date was soon revealed in the small-print published after the curtains closed.
The new iPhone 12 will ship with iOS 14.5 out-of-the-box, suggesting that Apple is pretty confident its new operating system version is ready to be used by customers, when it hits store shelves this Friday. Not only that but AirTags, which were available to pre-order alongside the new iPhone 12 on Friday April 23, require iOS 14.5 to work.
To avoid some very disappointed AirTag customers unable to find their keys – despite spending £29 on the latest Apple gadget – the company needs to get its new operating system out the door pretty sharpish. In the small-print published last Tuesday, Apple confirmed: “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.”
But when exactly can we expect to get our hands on iOS 14.5? After all, “these software updates will be available starting next week” is pretty vague.
According to Apple-obsessed blog MacRumors, you could be testing out iOS 14.5 on your iPhone this evening. In an article published on the blog, it claims that Apple has already informed third-party developers that they need to update their software with the iOS 14 SDK (Software Development Kit) and comply with Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency requirements by April 26. The App Tracking Transparency will show-up in apps, warning whenever a developer wants to track your activity or share it with advertisers.
Given that Apple has asked developers to make sure everything is in place by Monday April 26, 2021, it’s possible that iOS 14.5 could launch today. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Apple will flip the switch in its headquarters in Cupertino today. But with AirTags likely to start landing through letterboxes in the coming days, it makes sense that Apple would want to make sure iPhone owners get their hands on the new software as quickly as possible.
iOS 14.5 release time: If Apple does decide to roll-out iOS 14.5 today, when can you expect to download the software?
Apple usually kickstarts the iOS 14.5 update at 10am in Cupertino, California. That means any readers in New York should be checking their Settings menu for the new update around 1pm, while those in the UK should expect to see iOS 14.5 land around 6pm. In mainland Europe, France and Berlin – for example, you’ll be looking at a 7pm release.
Of course, these release times aren’t something you can set your watch by.
In the past, these updates have taken anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours after the predicted launch time to arrive with iPhone owners. And there’s always the possibility that we won’t see iOS 14.5 until tomorrow, allowing Apple to do some final checks – make sure every developer has updated to the latest SDK, added compliance for its App Tracking Transparency, and more.
The extra information about how companies handle your personal data isn’t the only reason to be excited about the latest update for iPhone.
Apple is bundling more than 200 new emoji with the new operating system to help jazz-up your text messages. Some of the biggest changes to the emoji library in iPadOS 14.5 resolve around skin tones. The pictograms for couples can now be customised so that each member of the couple has their own distinct skin tone. Until now, these emoji were still restricted to the default Simpsons-like yellow shade. Apple added the same feature to the icons of couples holding hands back in late 2019.
There are new smiley-style emoji to represent someone exhaling, a face with spiral eyes, and a face covered with clouds. Hearts are some of the most popular emoji, so Apple is adding a heart on fire and one patched-up with plasters. As well as the new additions, Apple has also tweaked some existing emoji. Most notably, it has removed the two droplets of blood falling from the needle in its syringe emoji, ostensibly to make the whole process seem a little less… bloody. The fluid inside the syringe is changing from red to clear too. People have been increasingly turning to this emoji to represent vaccination, so this change makes the icon look a little more like an Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, and not a blood sample.
An enhanced Apple Podcasts app with the redesigned show and episode pages is also coming in iOS 14.5. It will also offer Podcast listeners the chance to pay a subscription fee to unlock advert-free episodes as well as exclusive content. In addition, Siri no longer has a female voice by default and will now offer more diverse voice options in English.
And finally, and maybe most excitingly, iOS 14.5 will also allow Face ID facial recognition system to work – even when you’re wearing a face covering. The UK, and a number of countries around the world, require everyone to wear a face-covering when inside – in a supermarket, hairdresser, and more.
While helpful at reducing the spread of coronavirus, face-coverings are pretty unhelpful when it comes to Face ID, which is found on iPhone X, iPhone Xs, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and the iPad Pro range. It scans your face to authenticate contactless payments, unlock the handset, and open secure apps – like mobile banking.
With iOS 14.5, Apple will allow Face ID to unlock your smartphone whenever it detects a face-covering blocking its scan. To do this without making your iPhone less secure, Apple will look for an unlocked Apple Watch in close proximity.
If the software determines that your Apple Watch is close enough to be on your wrist, unlocked and signed in with the same Apple ID account, it will let Face ID work. That means you’ll be able to check your bank balance before paying with a card, answering WhatsApp texts and check a shopping list on your iPhone without resorting to a PIN code to unlock your smartphone each time.