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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Apple releases iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and watchOS 7.4

These new releases comes with Apple Watch unlock and the controversial App Tracking Transparency feature.

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Apple today released a handful of updates across its product line. Chief among those are iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and watchOS 7.4.

The highlight of the update includes easier iPhone unlocking when wearing a mask. This works when paired with your Apple Watch. It also includes the new App Tracking Transparency feature that has been controversial when it first released during the first beta version. Facebook ran full page ads claiming that the feature will work against small businesses who advertises in its platform. It also warns in its earnings call that the feature will affect its earnings performance.

It also includes support for the PlayStation 5 DualSense and Xbox Series X game controllers, expanding the iPhone and iPad’s controller support. The update also includes more than 200 new emojis. Many of which are for gender pairings. 

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iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 has the longest beta version in Apple’s history for a “point” release. It is now finally released after 8 weeks of beta testing. You can now download it by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

iOS 14.5 update

The update comes at 1.19GB for our iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPad Pro models.

App Tracking Transparency

App Tracking Transparency options.

App Tracking Transparency enables users to opt-in to advertiser tracking across apps and websites. It puts privacy back on the hands of consumers. Users will be prompted with a dialog asking whether to allow tracking across sites.

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Unlock your iPhone with Apple Watch

Another major feature is the ability to unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask. Users have to have an Apple Watch running watchOS 7.4 or later. 

Unlock with Apple Watch Settings

Users can use this feature by going to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and Turning on Unlock with Apple Watch.

Siri voice changes

Apple released an update to Siri with additional two new English voices when setting up Siri.

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Siri will also no longer default to a specific voice during initial setup. Instead, users will choose from the list of voices. Apple also removed the gendered labels of each voice to remove social bias from the user’s choice.

Other Changes

There are a lot of under the hood bug fixes and minor changes in the update.

Apple Music has some additional refinements to the interface. While fitness enthusiast will be happy to know that Apple Fitness+ has been updated to enable AirPlay 2 casting support. 

Here is the release notes for watchOS 7.4:

Apple WatchOS 7.4 release notes.

Here are the release notes for iPhoneOS and iPadOs 14.5:

Unlock iPhone with Apple Watch

  • Ability to unlock your iPhone X and later with Apple Watch Series 3 and later when you attempt to use Face ID while wearing a face mask

AirTag and Find My

  • Support for AirTag to keep track of and find your important items like your keys, wallet, backpack and more, privately and securely in the Find My app
  • Precision Finding uses visual, audible, and haptic feedback to guide you directly to your nearby AirTag using Ultra Wideband provided by the U1 chip on iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 models
  • AirTag can be located by playing a sound via the built-in speaker
  • The Find My network with hundreds of millions of devices can help you find your AirTag, even when it isn’t nearby
  • Lost Mode notifies you when your AirTag is found, and you can enter a phone number where you can be contacted


  • Support for separate skin tones for each individual in all variations of the couple kissing emoji and couple with heart emoji
  • New face emojis, heart emojis, woman with a beard emoji


  • Siri now includes more diverse voice options
  • Incoming calls can be announced with Siri, including who is calling, when you’re wearing your AirPods or compatible Beats headphones, and you can answer hands-free
  • Group FaceTime calls are supported by asking Siri to FaceTime a list of contacts or a group name from Messages
  • Emergency contacts can be called by asking Siri


  • App Tracking Transparency lets you control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites for ads or sharing with data brokers

Apple Music

  • Share your favorite lyrics using Messages, Facebook, and Instagram Stories, and subscribers can play the snippet in Messages without leaving the conversation
  • City charts showcase what’s popular in over 100 cities from all over the world


  • Podcasts Show Pages are redesigned to make it easier to start listening
  • Option to save and download episodes, automatically adding them to your Library for quick access
  • Download behavior and notification settings can be customized on a show-by-show basis
  • Top Charts and popular categories in Search help you discover new shows

5G improvements

  • Dual SIM support enables 5G connectivity on the line that’s using cellular data on iPhone 12 models
  • Smart Data Mode improvements further optimize your experience on 5G networks for better battery life and data usage on iPhone 12 models
  • 5G international roaming enabled on supported carriers on iPhone 12 models


  • Redesigned News+ tab enables Apple News+ subscribers to quickly find, download, and manage magazine and newspaper issues
  • All-new Search experience that helps you find relevant topics, channels, and stories


  • Accidents, hazards, or speed checks along your route can be reported by telling Siri on your iPhone or on CarPlay
  • Estimated time of arrival (ETA) can be shared when cycling or walking, in addition to driving, by asking Siri or tapping on the route card at the bottom of the screen, then tapping Share ETA


  • Ability to sort reminders by Title, Priority, Due Date, or Creation date
  • Option to print your reminder lists


  • Translation playback speed can be adjusted by long pressing the play button


  • Xbox Series X|S Wireless Controller or Sony PS5 DualSense™ Wireless Controller support


  • Ability to stream audio and video content from Apple Fitness+ workouts to AirPlay 2-enabled TVs and devices


  • ETA in Apple Maps can be easily shared while driving with new Siri or keyboard controls in CarPlay

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Messages at the bottom of the thread may be hidden by the keyboard under certain circumstances
  • Deleted messages may still appear in Spotlight search
  • Messages may persistently fail to send texts in some threads
  • Mail would not load new emails for some users until restarting the device
  • Call blocking and identification section may not appear in Phone settings
  • iCloud Tabs may not appear in Safari
  • iCloud Keychain could be prevented from turning off
  • Reminders created via Siri may be unintentionally set for early morning hours
  • Battery health reporting system will recalibrate maximum battery capacity and peak performance capability on iPhone 11 models to address inaccurate estimates of battery health reporting for some users (https://support.apple.com/HT212247)
  • Optimization to reduce the appearance of a dim glow that may appear at reduced brightness levels with black backgrounds on iPhone 12 models
  • AirPods audio routing to incorrect device for Automatic Switching
  • AirPods Automatic Switching notifications might be missing or duplicated
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