Apple’s iOS 14.5 has finally arrived, bringing a host of new features.
Two got a lot of the attention: new anti-tracking technologies that prevent advertisers from monitoring you between apps, and the ability to unlock your phone while wearing a mask, as long as you have an Apple Watch.
But in addition to these major changes, iOS 14.5 brings a host of other smaller changes, some of which might actually change your daily life even more.
Here are the least discussed new updates in the update, which can be downloaded from the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
Podcast app updates
The default Podcasts app has received a major update, as announced at Apple’s Spring Loaded event last week. It precedes the introduction of its new premium service “Subscriptions”, which allows producers to charge for podcasts, although it has not yet launched.
For now, however, you’ll be able to see the new look, which will appear on the podcasts themselves. There are other smaller tweaks to how it works, including better graphics and the ability to choose download behavior for each show.
The News app has also received its own redesign. This mainly applies to the paid News+ service – which has a redesigned tab that should make it easier to find and manage stories – but search has also been improved.
New Siri Voices
There are a host of changes to Siri – some of them technological, others more about choice. Many of them relate to the voice he uses.
Perhaps the most notable of the changes is that Siri will no longer default to a given “male” or “female” voice as in the past. When a new phone is set up, users will be asked what options they want, which will not be gendered – although any existing phones that are updated with the new software will retain the same voice they already have.
These voices have also received improvements. They should sound more organic and natural thanks to improvements to the text-to-speech engine, Apple said, and it has also made more voice-specific improvements in Ireland, Russia and Italy.
New Siri music options
Another of the improvements made to Siri is that it will now allow the voice assistant to play music from other services, such as Spotify. It’s not entirely obvious how this works – Apple hasn’t added a setting to choose your default music service, and instead Siri will try to learn – but that should mean asking for songs should make them appear in whatever app you tend to use.
Last year, a host of new emoji were agreed upon and now they’ve come to the Apple Watch. There are over 200 in all, some minor updates – like a face disappearing in the clouds – and other important forms of representation.
There is now support for split skin tones in the kissing couple emoji, for example. And the appearance of the needle emoji has been changed so that there is no more blood flowing.
The new update also brings support for AirTags, Apple’s new device tracking items. You’re unlikely to notice if you don’t have them, but if you do buy some you’ll need to make sure your phone is updated.
Other smaller features
There are also a host of other features, many of which add neat but minor tweaks. They include the ability to see speed limits in Apple Maps; the ability to stream Fitness+ workouts via AirPlay; support for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X controllers; a splash screen that will appear the right way up when the iPad is turned horizontally; and new “city charts” in Apple Music.
It also fixes a number of bugs, apparently including fixing an issue that would prevent new messages from appearing in the Mail app until the phone is restarted.
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