iOS 14.5: Apple adds iPhone unlock with Apple Watch, Fitness+ AirPlay support, and App Tracking Transparency

Apple has begun beta testing iOS 14.5, and whereas the iOS 14.4 release was a little dull, this version brings several welcome improvements. You’ll get the ability to unlock your iPhone with your Apple Watch, AirPlay support for Fitness+, and the long-awaited App Tracking Transparency feature.

Apple released the first developer beta on February 1, and the public beta is expected to follow within a day or so. The final release will probably happen sometime in February.

What’s new in iOS 14.5

App Tracking Transparency

This version of iOS will lay the groundwork for Apple’s long-advertised App Tracking Transparency feature. Simply put, your iPhone will now require applications to ask for permission (through a standard iOS prompt) whenever they want to track your activities outside the app, such as across other apps or websites. Most users are unaware that many apps even do this. Apple is not blocking the practice, merely requiring informed consent just as it does for, say, location access.

You won’t immediately see these prompts upon installing the iOS 14.5 beta. Rather, the requirement will go into effect later this spring.

AirPlay 2 support for Fitness+

One of the biggest setbacks of Apple’s new fitness subscription service is that you can only use it on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. You can’t use it on a Mac or any other smart TV. With iOS 14.5, you can stream workouts from your iPhone or iPad to an AirPlay 2 supported device, which is a huge improvement. There are lots of TVs that support AirPlay 2 these days, so this makes the service a lot less restrictive. You won’t see your real-time metrics on screen, but that’s a relatively small price to pay.

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

Face ID is great, but the constant mask-wearing of the COVID-19 global pandemic has exposed an obvious flaw—it doesn’t work when half your face is covered up. With iOS 14.5 (and watchOS 7.4), you have the option to make your iPhone work like your Mac does, and automatically unlock when you’re wearing an unlocked Apple Watch. 

unlock watch settings IDG

To use this feature, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and enable the Unlock with Apple Watch toggle. You’ll have to be wearing your Apple Watch which must be unlocked and protected with a passcode. Then, when Face ID sees you’re wearing a mask, it will unlock with your Apple Watch. You’ll feel a quick double-tap on the watch haptics and see a message on your iPhone screen that says “Unlocking with Apple Watch.” It all happens quickly and seamlessly. Where was this feature in the summer of 2020?

How to get the iOS 14.5 beta

If you’re feeling brave, you can try out iOS 14.5 before its general release. Apple suggests you do not run the 14.5 beta on any critical device, and that’s good advice—you never know what can go wrong.