iOS 14.5 beta 1 Hands on; Modifications and Features

Apple released iOS 14.5 beta 1 yesterday to developers, and as you’ve heard no doubt, it’s quite an update. IOS 14.5 beta 1 brings a number of practical improvements and overall improvements to the iPhone, headlined by the ability to unlock your iPhone with the Apple Watch while wearing a face mask. As we discuss the top iOS 14.5 beta 1 changes and features, watch our hands-on commentary.

What’s new in beta 1 of iOS 14.5?

Updated screens for Software Update

More informative details about updates have been given to both the Software Update page in the Settings app and the Watch app. Apple now includes a green check mark to indicate that you are on the latest software version, along with a message stating that “Your iPhone is up-to-date with all the latest bug fixes and security improvements.” Furthermore, iOS 14.5 now shows a time stamp that shows the last time you checked for an update successfully.

With Apple Watch, Unlock

As noted, when Face ID detects a face with a mask, the biggest feature coming to iOS 14.5 is support for Apple Watch Unlock. For the feature to work, users must wear an unlocked Apple Watch that is protected by a passcode. You’ll feel a vibration on your Apple Watch when trying to unlock your iPhone using Face ID while wearing a face mask, along with a notification that your iPhone has been successfully unlocked.

iPad Horizontal Boot Screen

IPadOS 14.5 will display the Apple startup logo in horizontal/landscape mode when connected to the Magic Keyboard, rather than the default portrait orientation. If you restart your iPad when it is disconnected from the Magic Keyboard, the startup screen will appear in portrait mode even if you are holding the device in landscape mode. As a side note, iPadOS 14.5 now supports emoji search, which has been enjoyed by iPhone users since the release of iOS 14, but up to now has been inexplicably missing on iPad.

Updates on cellular connectivity

The ability to enable dual SIM functionality while maintaining 5G connectivity is one of the biggest changes found in iOS 14.5. Enabling the dual SIM feature of the iPhone 12 would cause cellular connectivity to fall back to standard LTE in previous iOS versions. With iOS 14.5, users have the option of simultaneously keeping both connections active while still enjoying the 5G advantages. In addition to 5G dual SIM support, a new 5G Standalone cellular switch in system settings is surfacing for iOS 14.5. To accelerate the adoption of 5G, initial 5G implementations piggybacked on existing LTE networks, but this method imposes propagation limits based on the limitations of LTE. The limits of LTE are no longer in play with Standalone 5G. Keep in mind that 5G SA will need to be supported by your carrier, and Apple warns that allowing SA may cause degraded performance at this early stage.

Updates from Apple Music

In iOS 14.5, Apple Music gets some noteworthy updates under the Library tab, headlined by a new ‘Made For You’ section. In the Listen Now tab, Made For You includes all of the algorithmic-curated music suggestions that are usually found in playlists like Favorites Mix, Chill Mix, and New Music Mix. The inclusion of release dates for all music content featured on Apple Music is another handy feature found in iOS 14.5. Prior iOS versions would show release info, but users are treated with the exact release month, day, and year in this latest beta version of iOS. Users will also be pleased to know that the scrolling view of metadata on the interface of the Now Playing Lock Screen has now returned. This is a major improvement over the truncated view of metadata that has been around in the last few versions.

Enhancements to the Reminders app

It’s crazy that until now we haven’t been able to sort Reminders based on parameters such as modification date or title, but at least in iOS 14.5 we finally get such features. Users can still manually sort reminder lists, but there are now several options for sorting metadata, along with ascending and descending preferences.

Updated sorting options add the ability to print a list of reminders directly, allowing users to quickly send a list to a configured AirPrint printer.

Podcast app updated

In addition to a greater update to the look and feel of the official show page for each podcast, the stock Podcasts app receives lots of subtle changes and improvements. New improvements include a full bleed header with color-matched backgrounds and new glyphs on the refreshed Library page.

AirPlay 2 support for Apple Fitness+ Workouts

Compatibility with AirPlay 2 applies to Apple Fitness+ workouts, allowing users to directly stream workouts to an AirPlay 2-compatible set top box or TV. As opposed to just playing on an Apple TV or iPad, the issue with this method is that you lose on-screen metric support. But that might not be a huge deal, since on your Apple Watch, metric details remain readily available.

Redesigned guides for the Maps App

The Guides feature on the Maps app has been redesigned by Apple, which now includes a full bleed header, redesigned buttons, and beautiful animations when each guide is minimized and maximized.

Support for your PS5 / Xbox Series X controller

Support is now available in 14.5 for next-generation console controllers, including the Playstation 5 Dual Sense controller and the Xbox Series X controller. A welcome new addition for controller-compatible Apple Arcade games, and for taking advantage of console-centric remote play features, is next-gen controller support.

Dedicated search tab in the app News

The News app gets a dedicated search interface for quickly finding channels, subjects, or stories, similar to the Search tab in the Music app and TV app.

Updates to Siri’s interface

An updated interface that no longer opens on a dedicated Siri screen will be noticed by those using the Siri Accessibility Type option, allowing the user to keep track of their current iOS position. This update is similar to the changes that were first implemented in iOS 14 when using voice to invoke Siri. An updated interface that appears when you send iMessages via Siri will also be found.


The biggest update since the initial release of iOS 14 last year is iOS 14.5. What are your favorite new modifications and features for iOS 14.5 beta 1? Is it unlocking an Apple Watch, updating 5G connectivity, changing music apps, or something else? Sound off below with your thoughts in the comments.