Apple Releases iOS 14.5 with New Privacy Controls

Posted on April 26, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 37 Comments

Apple today announced the release of iOS 14.5, which adds new privacy controls, Apple Watch unlock capabilities, and more.

Here’s what’s new.

New privacy controls. Announced at WWDC 2020 last summer and original due in iOS 14.0, Apple’s new privacy controls are finally debuting in iOS 14.5. They include most notably a feature called App Tracking Transparency that requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers. Apps will now prompt users for permission. And in iOS Settings, users can see which apps have requested permission to track them so they can make changes to their choice at any time.

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch. Just in time for the end of the pandemic, iOS 14.5 includes a change to Face ID that lets users securely unlock their iPhone using their masked face plus an Apple Watch. This feature requires iPhone X or later and Apple Watch Series 3 or later.

Siri improvements. Apple’s voice assistant no longer uses a default voice but instead lets users choose a voice from a selection of more diverse options. Siri also supports Group FaceTime, so you can initiate calls with multiple contacts or ask Siri to FaceTime the name of any group in Messages. Finally, Siri can also announce incoming calls through AirPods or compatible Beats headphones, and it supports calling emergency contacts if the iPhone owner needs assistance and is unable to make a call.

Apple Maps improvements. As with Google Maps and Waze, Apple Maps now lets you report incidents (in the US and China), including accidents, speed checks, and road hazards. Apple Maps users can also share their ETA when walking or cycling.

New emoji. It wouldn’t be a new version of iOS without some new emoji, and version 14.5 includes new characters for face exhaling, face with spiral eyes, face in clouds, hearts on fire, mending heart, woman with a beard, and others.

But wait, there’s more. There are many other small improvements, including updates to Apple Podcasts, AirTag support, an Apple News redesign, Apple Fitness+ improvements, and more.

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Comments (37)

37 responses to “Apple Releases iOS 14.5 with New Privacy Controls”

  1. sherlockholmes

    Way to go, Apple. Now I need a Apple Watch to unlock my IPhone XR with my mask on. Stupid as hell.

  2. Scsekaran

    Does the new privacy controls such as permission to app tracking and data sharing works for apple apps as well ?

  3. tallguyse

    I’m not usually a beta person, but have been using this batch of betas on my Apple devices. They all now work very well and this is what they should have been at launch. I may be in the minority, but thought last fall’s iOS / iPadOS and macOS releases were rather glitchy.

    The privacy features are nice and appreciated, but Facebook and Google will still gather a lot of personal info just by using their apps.

  4. kjb434

    The privacy controls are very similar to the Edge browser's do not tract requests. It's merely asking "do not track". I doesn't actively block or control any of the tracking.

    My view is that most users will click through. Some may be educated and may change their mind.

  5. wright_is

    Jake Moore over at eSet was playing with the "enhanced" FaceID, which works better with masks. He wrote that he was having fun wearing a mask about the house and unlocking...

    Then a few minutes later, he tweeted again, that his 8 year old daughter, wearing a mask, could unlock the phone.

    Who'd have thought, using 50% of the data means that the FaceID is only 50% as secure as before.

    Hacking FaceID, so easy a child can do it!

    • ivarh

      In reply to wright_is:

      When your apple watch unlocks your phone it has to be very close to the phone. Your watch will also give a haptic beep showing a notification with a big button to relock the iPhone. So if you let your son/daughter sit in your lap with a mask they will be able to unlock the phone. You will also get a vibrating watch with a big button notifying you it happened and a big button to relock the phone.

      • wright_is

        In reply to ivarh:

        "very close" is relative. Security journalist Davey Winder tried it out:

        He went to the other end of the house, as far away as he could, and it still worked. Likewise he said that on at least one occasion, he didn't get/feel the haptic feedback on the watch.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to wright_is:

          This is option is turned off by default. It is an option that you can choose to enable or not. Security is not all or nothing, it is always a trade-off between security and convenience. I know your "50% as secure" comment is meant in jest, but seriously this is a great option, and will provide significant convenience for millions of people with very little additional security risk. If you are a potential security target and you have any concerns then you should probably just be using a long, strong password to unlock your device-- and should probably not leave it unattended and risk giving a bad actor access to it. Once someone has access to your device you're already asking for trouble.

          • wright_is

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            I agree, it is an option. But people should at least be aware that the FaceID is actually "turned off" when this option is turned on and somebody with a mask tries to unlock the phone.

            (i.e. if the camera detects a mask, it doesn't bother to try and recognise if the person behind the mask is the user.)

  6. nbplopes

    The unlock through the Apple Watch when using a mask works 100%. Super.

    PS: Don’t see myself stop using the mask for at least a year. So it’s useful. It would be useful if it worked with helmets/bikes.

  7. retcable

    Android users always brag about how that OS has tons of OPTIONS that enable users to change and configure every single little thing about it to suit their taste, so why are those fans now so opposed to Apple offering the option to block trackers? I am quite grateful for the option to turn off tracking, and I am also grateful for the option to turn it back on, should I ever decide to do so. Options are a great thing.

    • Paul Thurrott

      What? Do you really believe that there is some contingent of Android fans who have looked at what Apple is doing and have said, no, that's wrong, and even though I don't use an iPhone I am now opposed to this tracking protection? That doesn't even make sense. It's more likely that there is some contingent of Android fans who wish Google would do the same. Even though that will literally never happen.
  8. Chris_Kez

    By default, apps are not given the option to ask for permission. You must enable that in Settings > Privacy. I enabled that option just so I can see which apps eventually request permission (I don’t have Facebook installed), and can enjoy saying no.

  9. crunchyfrog

    I support anything that makes Facebook squirm.

  10. crunchyfrog

    The mask unlock and AirTag bits are nice, but more emoji's...


    Question is, does 14.5 prompt you for permission for apps made by Apple that track you!? You know, level playing field and all that ;-)

    (That aside, it's a great move. Being cynical I think it's more motivated by Apple wanting to fight Google and Facebook rather than being kind-hearted. But hey, if it works...).

  12. Saarek

    I’ve been using the beta for around 7 weeks, absolutely fantastic having my Apple Watch unlock my iPhone.

    The benefit of the Apple ecosystem really coming to play here, just brilliant.

    • djr1984

      In reply to Saarek:

      Just tried it out at Tesco. Such a shame that they didn't bring it out at the start of the pandemic. Seems such an obvious feature now that it's here, wonder what took them so long.

      • Saarek

        In reply to djr1984:

        From what I can gather it was a lot harder to implement than one might assume. They had to get the proximity working just right to ensure that the phone was not unlocked by some random person wearing a mask.

        The U1 chip would be perfect for this task, but most of the current install base will not have devices with this chip yet, so they had to rely on bluetooth signal strength along with the proximity sensors to work out if the person unlocking the phone is indeed the owner.

        Still, really useful now it is out.

    • geoff

      In reply to Saarek:

      That's just 'smart unlock' isn't it?

      My 3 year old Huawei Mate 20 pro (Android) has been doing that since I got it.

      I use a smartwatch as an unlock device, and also my car. Anything with Bluetooth will do.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to Geoff:

        Have you tested it when is in someone else’s wrist close by?

        This only works if you are wearing a mask. If not Face ID is used.

        Its not exactly the same, it’s way more secure.

  13. ronh

    My Garmin unlocks my Android phone just by wearing it.

  14. Cdorf

    Dont forget this one includes support for the newer Xbox controllers... I ran into this last weekend when trying to use the new game streaming preview.

  15. StevenLayton

    Okay, I updated to 14.5 on my iPad, then ran the Facebook App. I was kinda expecting comical red alert sirens to start flashing on screen. What now? Do I need to do anything to turn the privacy controls on?

    • Saarek

      In reply to StevenLayton:

      If you want the option of allowing certain apps to track you then enable the "Allow apps to request to track" option and when you open any app for the first time that contains tracking you will get the option.

      Apple understandably defaulted to disabled because let's face it, who wants to be tracked by Google, Facebook or any other scum bag company? But for the few out there that do want to be tracked for some random reason, that's how you do it. :-)

      • bhofer

        In reply to Saarek:

        I'm pretty sure Apple didn't disable this by default. I've noticed there is a lot of confusion around this topic. This app tracking stuff actually isn't entirely new. It has been around since iOS 14.0 when it gave us the ability to disable app tracking (Settings -> Privacy -> Tracking). I suspect quite a few people turned it off back then, forgot about it, and now think it's a brand new feature again. With iOS 14.0, we could either turn it off for everything, or apps could show us the prompt if they supported the feature. (I've gotten a few of them way before iOS 14.5 was released.) All that is new in iOS 14.5 is that apps will now be required to show the prompt once they've been updated. Apps updates submitted to the App Store starting on April 26th will be required to be built using the iOS 14 SDK, and will then show the prompt.

        • Saarek

          In reply to bhofer:

          How interesting, I had, incorrectly it would appear, assumed that it was just the default. I suppose not making it the default chucks a bone to FaceBook, but once people see the simple explanation of what that company is up to there is no way they'd accept if they are right in the head.

    • fishnet37222

      In reply to StevenLayton:

      When I went into iOS Settings -> Privacy -> Tracking, I saw that "Allow Apps to Request to Track" was already disabled.