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The credits have just rolled on Apple’s first showcase event of the year. Teased with the tagline “Spring Loaded”, the event saw the company announce a new iPad Pro that’s as powerful as its latest MacBook Pro, a redesigned iMac with half a dozen new colours and boosted camera and microphone for video calls, a new colour for the iPhone 12 range, a minor upgrade for the Apple TV, and its long-awaited AirTags, which allow iPhone owners to pinpoint the location of lost keys and wallets from the Find My app on iOS.
But one thing that wasn’t mentioned was the feverishly-anticipated iOS 14.5 update. Some had predicted the “Spring Loaded” event would trigger the launch of iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t confirm when its latest software updates would roll-out to eager customers during its 60-minute presentation, which was pre-recorded in its headquarters in Cupertino, California. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t know when the new updates are coming….
In the minutes after the event, Apple confirmed the release of iPadOS 14.5. The release date is found buried at the bottom of the press release for the new iPad Pro model. It reads: “iPadOS 14.5, which will be available to iPad customers starting next week, comes with new additions, including expanded language support for Apple Pencil features like Scribble and Smart Selection, new emoji, support for the latest gaming controllers, and the ability to share lyrics and see top songs in cities around the world with Apple Music.”
The redesigned iPad Pro will ship with iPadOS 14.5 out of the box. It will be available to pre-order on April 30, with availability in the coming weeks, depending on your region.
But what about iOS 14.5? Well, sadly, that’s where the good news ends.
Apple hasn’t snuck a similar announcement for the hotly-anticipated iOS upgrade into its press release about the new purple shade for the iPhone 12 series. Nor has it included this tidbit in any of its other press releases from the packed “Spring Loaded” event.
It has confirmed that anyone who buys the new iPhone 12 model will find the smartphone running iOS 14.5 out of the box. So, that suggests the new version of the operating system will be available to install well before April 30, 2021 when the iPhone 12 in purple starts to be delivered through doors and on store shelves worldwide.
iOS 14.5 is an important update. Amongst all the usual performance and stability tweaks, Apple has added a new feature that will allow its Face ID facial recognition system to work – even when you’re wearing a face covering. The UK, and a number of countries around the world, require everyone to wear a face-covering when inside – in a supermarket, hairdresser, and more. While helpful at reducing the spread of coronavirus, face-coverings are pretty unhelpful when it comes to Face ID, which is found on iPhone X, iPhone Xs, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and the iPad Pro range. It scans your face to authenticate contactless payments, unlock the handset, and open secure apps – like mobile banking.
With iOS 14.5, Apple will allow Face ID to unlock your smartphone whenever it detects a face-covering blocking its scan. To do this without making your iPhone less secure, Apple will look for an unlocked Apple Watch in close proximity. If it determines that your Apple Watch is close enough to be on your wrist, unlocked and signed in with the same Apple ID account, it will let Face ID work. That means you’ll be able to check your bank balance before paying with a card, answering WhatsApp texts and check a shopping list on your iPhone without resorting to a PIN code to unlock your smartphone each time.
An enhanced Apple Podcasts app with the redesigned show and episode pages is also coming in iOS 14.5. It will also offer Podcast listeners the chance to pay a subscription fee to unlock advert-free episodes as well as exclusive content. iOS 14.5 also brings all-new emoji to the iPhone.
In addition, Siri no longer has a default voice and will include more diverse voice options in English. This latest software update builds on the release of iOS 14, which delivered a major update to the Home Screen with beautifully redesigned widgets and the App Library, new ways to use apps with App Clips, and powerful updates to Messages.
Donning our deerstalker caps for a moment, it seems likely that we’ll see iOS 14.5 release alongside iPadOS 14.5 next week. The mobile operating systems, which until a few years ago launched under the same iOS brand, are still very closely aligned. And with features like continuity, which allows iPhone owners to bring across what they’re doing on one device – like a draft email, word document, web browser tab, or reply to a text message – to another device with a swipe, it would be usually for Apple to leave these devices without the same features for too long.
For example, if you’re subscribed to the newly-redesigned Apple Podcasts on iPad, how long is Apple going to leave you unable to pick up those exclusive episodes on an iPhone?
We’ve been wrong before. But we’d wager that iOS 14.5 will launch alongside iPadOS 14.5 next week.
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