Tuesday, 27 April 2021 11:45

Apple's crop of new OS updates arrives: iOS 14.5, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS and macOS, UPDATE NOW! Featured

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If you use an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV or Apple Watch, today's the day you can download shiny new OS updates that let you unlock an iPhone when wearing a mask with your Apple Watch, re-size iPad and iPhone app windows on an M1 Mac and much, much, MUCH more - plus 50 iOS security updates.

When Apple launches new OS updates, and especially ones that fix security vulnerabilities that, at least in some cases, are being actively exploited, then it's time to urgently upgrade right now.

But bug fixes and security updates aren't the only reasons to update - there are usually a TON of new features when we go to point updates, such as to iOS 14.5 from iOS 14.4 or earlier versions, with some people out there still on iOS 13, for example, even if their number is small compared to the hundreds of millions on one version of iOS 14.x or another.

These sorts of updates are usually large - the iOS 14.5 update for the iPhone 12 Pro Max is 1.19GB for example, with the macOS Big Sur 11.3 update is 5.71GB on one of my Macs, and the watchOS 7.4 update for a Series 6 Apple Watch clocking in a 566MB.

So, what are some of the new features? The biggest one for iPhone users with an Apple Watch, especially in countries where mask wearing is still absolutely essential (something that isn't the case in Australia, or at least, most of the time), is the ability to unlock your Face ID-capable iPhone, when wearing a mask, with your Apple Watch Series 3 or later.

What else is new? Please read on!

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iOS 14.5 also brings in AirTag support to Apple's Find My network, so you can "keep track of and find important items like your keys, wallet, backpack and more" - along with the precision finding options when using an iPhone 11 or 12 with the U1 Ultra Wideband chip.

Siri now has more voices and new features, while one of the big new features is App Tracking Transparency that forces apps to ask you if you want to be tracked - and the answer, at least in my mind, should always be a firm NO.

The iPhone 12 series can now have 5G activated when using both the eSIM and the physical SIM slot. Prior to iOS 14.5, if you had two lines activated, even if they were both on 5G capable networks and you were in a 5G area, you were only able to use 4G, although naturally a single SIM, be it physical or an eSIM, could access 5G.

I was very surprised to hear a Telstra in-store representative tell me this a few weeks ago when I re-activated my eSIM, and initially I didn't believe it, and checked it immediately, only to discover that was correct. Well, it is correct no longer - one of your 5G capable SIMs in your iPhone can now be used in 5G mode when you have two lines installed, which is great news.

Apple also promises "Smart Data Mode improvements further optimise your experience on 5G networks for better battery life and data usage on iPhone 12 models", and for those who are lucky enough to be able to travel internationally in a COVID-safe way, Apple notes "5G international roaming (is now) enabled on supported carriers on iPhone 12 models".

I'm downloading the latest updates to all of my Apple devices as we speak, and it has aleady installed on some devices, as it continues to download and install on my Apple Watch, and there's another huge feature that I'm keen to try out.

That feature is the ECG capability, which has been denied to Australians since it arrived for US users on the Apple Watch Series 4.

The Therapuetic Goods Administration finally approved ECG capabilities earlier this year, and in this watchOS 7.4 update, Australia and Vietnam are the two lucky countries to get ECG at long last.

There's plenty more from all the updates, below are the listings of new features and fixes for iOS 14.5 and macOS Big Sur 11.3 - I certainly hope the ongoing Textedit bugs in macOS Big Sur 11.3 are finally fixed once and for all, and will undoubtedly find out soon.

Here's the list of new features for iOS 14.5, after which you'll find the list of updates for macOS Big Sur 11.3: 

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

Emoji

* 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

* 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

Privacy

* 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

* 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 optimise 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

News

* 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

Maps

* 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

Reminders

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

Translate

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

Gaming

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

Fitness+

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

CarPlay

* 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

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

Here's the list of updates for macOS Big Sur 11.3:

macOS Big Sur 11.3 adds support for AirTag, includes iPhone and iPad app improvements for Macs with M1, introduces separate skin tone variations for emoji with couples and adds more diverse voice options for Siri.

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
* 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

iPhone and iPad apps on Macs with M1

* Option to change an iPhone and iPad app's window size
* Support for displaying the highest resolution version of an iPhone or iPad app in full screen
* Keyboard support for iPhone and iPad games designed to use device tilt
* Keyboard, mouse and trackpad support for iPhone and iPad games that support gaming controllers

Emoji

* 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

* Siri now includes more diverse voice options

Apple Music

* Autoplay keeps music playing by automatically playing a similar song once you've reached the end of a song or playlist
* City charts showcase what's popular in over 100 cities from all over the world

Podcasts

* 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 behaviour and notification settings can be customised on a show-by-show basis
* Top Charts and popular categories in Search help you discover new shows

News

* Redesigned News+ feed 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

Safari

* Start Page section order can now be customised
* Additional WebExtensions API lets developers offer extensions that replace the new tab page
* Web Speech API lets developers incorporate speech recognition into their web pages for real-time captioning, dictation and voice navigation
* WebM and Vorbis video and audio format support

Reminders

* Ability to sort Today Smart list
* Support for syncing the order of reminders in lists across your devices
* Option to print your reminder lists

Gaming

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

Mac computers with the M1 chip

* Hibernation support

About This Mac

* About this Mac displays Apple warranty status and AppleCare+ coverage in the Service tab when signed in with Apple ID
* Support for purchasing and enrolling in AppleCare+ for eligible Mac computers from About This Mac

This release also fixes the following issues:

* Reminders created via Siri may be unintentionally set for early morning hours
* iCloud Keychain might not turn off
* AirPods audio routing to incorrect device for Automatic Switching
* AirPods Automatic Switching notifications might be missing or duplicated
* External 4K monitors may not display in full resolution when connected over USB-C
* Login window may not display properly after restarting Mac mini (M1, 2020)
* The Dwell feature may not work in the Accessibility Keyboard

Some features may not be available in all regions or on all Apple devices, and require an Apple ID.

For more detailed information about this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT211896
For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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