iOS 14.5: Apple releases beta 3 with a new Items section in the Find My app

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, but the public beta did not follow immediately after as it often does, instead coming on February 4 after a second build for developers. The final release to the general public is likely to come sometime in February or early March.

Update 03/03/2021: Apple has released third beta of iOS 14.5 to developers, with public testers soon to follow. It adds a new Items section in Find My, hinting at the release of AirTags. 

What’s new in iOS 14.5

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?

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.

Items in Find My

We’ve heard that AirTags are about to be released for over a year now. Could it really happen in March? iOS 14.5 adds a new “Items” section in the Find My app, which would show the location of licensed item trackers and devices that use Apple’s new licensed location-tracking system, which would presumably include Apple’s own AirTags.