iOS 14.5 Public Beta 3 gives testers back a feature that we had in Public Beta 1, plus the Find My app gets a mystery ability.
Let’s take a closer look.
Hey Siri, Play ‘Monopoly’
It was a “blink and you’ll miss it” feature of iOS 14.5 Public Beta 1, but now, the first time you ask Siri to play a song, it asks what service you’d like to use for playback. Once you’ve selected, it uses that service by default the next time you request audio playback. Siri will also helpfully remind you that you can ask it to switch to a different service at any time the next time you start audio playback.
This is awesome for those of us that have gone all-in on something other than Apple Music (like Amazon Music or Spotify). It’s also a good way for Apple to start playing nice with other apps rather than defaulting to its own services for everything.
Additionally, the Find My app now has the elusive Items tab fully enabled. You can’t do much of anything with it at the moment, but rumors are you’ll be able to add all your Bluetooth trackers here, even if they aren’t the mythical AirTags. Kind of like a Home dashboard, but for your Bluetooth finders.
Here are the other features packed into iOS 14.5
- Emojis! Lots of emojis. 217 of them to be precise.
- Unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch (click here to see how).
- You can now swipe to add songs to your queue in Apple Music.
- The Shortcuts app has a few new tricks to enable and disable orientation lock, change cellular modes, and take screenshots.
- Now, when you launch an app that collects your activity data or tracks you around your iDevice, you have the option of disallowing that intrusion (as you should). Some companies, like Facebook, who’ve made their money off selling activity data that consumers unknowingly agreed to share in the legal agreements that no one ever reads are rather peeved. Personally, I fully support it as it gives folks who might not have realized what they were agreeing to a chance to change their minds.
- The new Software Update splash screen (with the current iOS version as well as notification of when you last checked for a software update) has been tweaked slightly to remove the green check.
- Testing on an iPad? iPadOS now has a horizontal boot screen when your iPad is connected to a Magic Keyboard.
- For some carriers like T-Mobile, there’s a 5G only switch (but only use it if you absolutely know what you’re doing).
- Worldwide dual SIM support is available with this release. This means that you can get 5G coverage when available even if you have both SIMs activated.
- You can now add the Apple Music “Made for You” mixes to your library in the Music app. The Music app also now includes the exact release date for albums and tracks. And scrolling metadata for the Now Playing lock screen widget is back!
- The Podcasts app also gets some love with a Music app-like redesign. That’s most evident on the Search page. Also, tapping on a podcast entry will take you to the details page for the podcast rather than start playing immediately (there’s now a dedicated smaller button for that). Extremely helpful for when you’re trying to find a specific episode for a podcast with a long title (I’m looking at you Glass Cannon Network). Each podcast gets new headers in the library as well to make them really shine.
- Fan of Apple News? There’s now a dedicated search tab in the News app.
- You can finally sort your reminders due date, creation date, due date, or a manual sort of your choosing in the Reminders app. You can now print reminders as well.
- Have a PS5 or XBox Series X? Lucky you. Now those controllers will work with your iDevice.
- Great news for those of you with a smart TV! Apple Fitness+ now has AirPlay 2 support. You won’t see your live Apple Watch data like you do if you’re connected via an Apple TV, but it’s better than no support at all.
- Map app guides get a huge glow-up in iOS 14.5 with spiffed up images and headers and much more polished looking content.
- Type to Siri no longer pulls you out of your current location when invoked, just like it does when you’re not using the type interface. It’s a nice bit of consistency.
- Responding to a message with Siri has the same type of upgrade, maintaining context wherever you are when it’s invoked instead of pulling you into a greyed out screen.
What’s Broken/What’s Fixed?
With so many new features in iOS 14.5, it’s no surprise that there are a few more bugs than we’re used to seeing this late in an iOS life cycle. Of course that means that we’re seeing any. Usually by Q3 of iOS we’re at about a 0-1 bug rate. The official release notes list them out what’s fixed and what’s still bugged.
- Fixed! : If you have a newer iPad, you can now connect to an external display via a USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter without issue.
- Busted! Homepod handoff (which was working previously) is busted again.
That’s it for the official release notes, but that doesn’t mean that’s everything. As usual, report any bugs you find (especially with third-party apps) via the Feedback app.
I really appreciate that iOS 14.5 seems to be about giving more control back to users. Between default audio apps, Apple Watch unlock, and ad-tracking notifications, this release makes me hopeful that Apple is considering its users, how they use their iDevices, and what quality of life features are going to help them the most.
Maybe it’s just because we’re coming out of a year of nothing but trash fires, but a company trying to make my life a little easier makes me happy right now.
iOS 14.5 is bursting at the seams with new features and quality of life improvements for iOS users. It’s not surprising, then, that we’re seeing a somewhat slower development cycle. Usually we’d be three or four betas in at this point, but Apple is hewing to a relaxed release schedule at the moment. Most likely iOS 14.5 will release this month, but it might not be till mid-March or later.
Now that all the features for the release seem to be packed into the build, I imagine that schedule will accelerate, but I’ve been wrong before. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new Public Beta 4 next week, but if it doesn’t ship till two weeks from now, that would make sense as well.
Either way, I’ll see you as soon as the next beta hits!