Human Interest

The dreaded iPhone update time is here, and Apple has a whole set of features in store with the iOS 14.5 update that could make your life a little easier. The update became available for iPhone users around 1 p.m. today.

Most notably, iOS 14.5 will allow Apple Watch users to unlock their phones while wearing a mask, and it also puts some extra privacy in your life so ads won’t follow you as much. Those are the two biggest features, but there’s a lot more under the hood. Let’s take a look at most of the major changes you can expect.

Oh, and before we get to that, for now you still need to go manually update to iOS 14.5. By now, you probably know how to do this, but just in case:

  1. Run a backup of your phone (seriously… we’ve learned the hard way).
  2. Head to your Settings.
  3. Go to the General section.
  4. Hit that Software Update.
  5. Pray that there aren’t many glitches… cause there ain’t no going back really.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff, here’s what’s in the newest update:

  1. New emojis! 217 of them in fact. Those are always fun;
  2. New Siri voices, and no longer defaulting to the traditional female voice;
  3. Siri 911 and emergency contact capabilities;
  4. Apple Maps traffic issues reporting options;
  5. Reminders can FINALLY be sorted by a bunch of different options;
  6. All the support for the new AirTags and Apple Podcasts we told you about  last week
  7. Console controller support so you can play games on your phone;
  8. The security and ad tracking updates we mentioned already;
  9. And that cool unlocking with your Apple Watch feature.

There’s actually way more under there, but these are the key features. Let’s dive in to some of those a little deeper.

Apple iPhone and Apple Watch

Unlocking your iPhone with your Apple Watch just got easier.

Unlocking Your Phone With a Mask On

We’ve all run into this problem now. Unlocking your phone when you’re in public is quite a challenge when you have a mask on. It’s a good problem to have, but still, sometimes an annoyance. But now, if you have an Apple Watch, you can just glance at your phone after you’ve set your watch to unlock. It may create some unintended consequences, but if you’re the type to be out and about with your phone a lot, the tradeoff is probably worth it.

iPhone tracking message

New privacy controls will stop apps from being able to track you for ad delivery, if you so choose.

Privacy Controls Have Been Increased

If you’re the type who is worried about how apps and websites track your data, and delivery customized content or ads because of it, this update is for you. Now you’ll get a prompt from any app you install asking for permission to track your activity. Several apps have been doing this on their own already to get ready for this feature, so you may have seen it.

This is a big step for people concerned about how apps and websites follow you. Many of those features are designed to give you customized experiences, but sometimes it can be a bit unnerving. So now you have more control over what you’re sharing.

New Emojis Are Here

If you’re an emoji user, days like today are Christmas. There are 217 emojis added in this update. Many of them are skin-tone variations of some current emojis, but there’s also a fire heart, and mending heart, face in the clouds **coughcough**, and a few more. Play around and let us know which new emojis you find. Keep in mind, that until everyone updates, some of these may not show up. And let’s not even get into how annoying it’ll be texting Android users with these for a bit.

New Siri Voices and Emergency Capabilities

There have been options to change your Siri voice in the past, but it’s always something you had to do after the fact. Now, by default, you’ll get to choose one of four Siri voices to best suit your needs. There are some clarity upgrades too, allowing for Siri to feel even more real (and definitely not at all creepy) than ever before.

Plus, now Siri has an extremely important feature. You can ask them to call an emergency contact, or even 911 for you. There’s a 3-second delay before it goes into effect after your request, hopefully to avoid any accidental emergency calls.

Some Of the Other Stuff

  • Apple Maps gets an upgrade that will make it feel a little more like other mapping services that will remain unnamed. You can now report traffic incidents and stuff in the road (or maybe speed checks…), just by telling Siri various things. Super helpful for keeping your hands on the wheel, but helping everyone stay safe.
  • AirTag support is built into this update. So the handy little tracking devices we told you about last week can actually work on your phone. These are super handy little gadgets that will end the days of searching everywhere for your keys or wallet.
  • A pretty cool feature that will only matter to a few people here, but you can now have Dual SIM support. So, in an oversimplified nutshell, you’ll be able to have two phone lines on one phone, and it’ll make your 5G experiences a lot better.
  • Reminders gets a much-needed upgrade, with the option to sort by things like due date or creation date, and to FINALLY print reminder lists. Man that one was overdue.


Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.

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