What's New in iOS 14.5
While the version number might suggest that iOS 14.5 is a simple point release, it comes with a boatload of new features that you would have expected Apple to sit on until iOS 15 came out. If you've been on the fence about whether or not you should install the update, then think about how much you're missing. For instance, Apple Watch users can now back the contents of their device up to iCloud simply by using a control panel function on a connected iPhone.
All it takes is a single swipe to turn on and off this functionality. Those who end up losing something like a handy watch are in luck as well. AirTag aficionados are now able to find their devices using the U1 chip located in any iPhone 11 or later. That should prove to be far more accurate than the previous way that Apple was locating tagged equipment. Considering that Cupertino has also dropped the price of AirTags, this is actually looking more and more attractive to end-users at this point.
Cellular support for 5G networks on iPhone 12 models has been boosted considerably, which should help to take advantage of many network upgrades that have been put in place over the last 12 months or so. Those who have an iPhone but don't live in an area that currently has 5G connectivity will still want to install iOS 14.5 since the OS will automatically switch on this option the moment it senses that a 5G tower has gone online.
Some artistic features, like new emojis in the shape of a heart on fire, have been added that might not get many power users excited about their devices. However, privacy advocates will appreciate the fact that developers will now be required to ask for permission whenever they'd prefer to track users in more than one application at a time. You'll still want to pay close attention to in-app settings, however, because developers are still permitted to track people within their own programs.
A majority of power users are going to be most interested in these new privacy features. This really is the highlight of iOS 14.5, especially for those who have a large number of apps installed on their phones at the same time. Apple is also now using Google's Safe Browsing technology to keep users safer, but they're proxying it through a third-party server in order to reduce the amount of information that Alphabet is allowed to collect from each user's IP address.
While there's now increased support for Xbox Series S/X controllers and PS5 joypads, the real stars all seem to be in the privacy and security sectors. When you first start Safari from inside of iOS 14.5, you might notice that a new warning comes up telling you if it thinks you've ended up accessing a fraudulent website. On top of this, iOS 14.5 is far more resilient against zero-click attacks. These were historically a major problem with the Safari browser, but it now looks like they've finally been patched up.