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iOS 14.5's release date, major new features and more: Everything we know

Here's everything that will be included in the latest iPhone update that we know so far -- and how to download the public beta now.

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iOS 14 will get some new features in this month's release.

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iOS 14 was first released in September 2020, ahead of the launch of the iPhone 12. New versions of Apple's mobile operating system have come out once a month since then, with new features and bug fixes. The latest version -- iOS 14.4 -- was released on Jan. 26. We thought iOS 14.5 would arrive in late February, then in March, but now it appears that it will be sometime in April (there's an Apple event coming up on April 20, and we'll likely find out more then.) In the meantime, the public beta version is available right now. 

The latest version of the OS will include new features that make it easier for you to unlock your phone while wearing a mask (so long as you also own an Apple Watch), and that require apps to ask for user permission before tracking data and activity. You'll also find new voice options for Siri, which will no longer default to a female voice. 

Read more: WatchOS 7.4 is coming: 2 new Apple Watch features people will love

Now playing: Watch this: What's new in iOS 14.5?
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Here's everything we know about iOS 14.5 so far, including when it will be generally available to download, and what new features you can expect. Plus, here are the rumors we've heard about iOS 15

Read more: iOS 14's best new iPhone features

When is the iOS 14.5 release date?

The latest version of Apple's operating system, iOS 14.5, is now available as a public beta. That means you can download it, but it may contain some bugs, as Apple is still working on it before its final release. We don't recommend downloading any beta on the device you use regularly. 

Apple doesn't publicly announce when it will release a new version of iOS, but we can follow some clues. Since the developer beta for iOS 14.5 became available on Feb. 1, and the public beta shortly after, and releases come out roughly once a month, iOS 14.5 is now a bit more delayed than usual. We can likely expect to see the final version of iOS 14.5 sometime in April.

How can I download the iOS 14.5 public beta?

If you do want to download the iOS 14.5 public beta and try out some of the new features (again, we'd recommend doing so on a device you don't typically use, since there could be bugs), you first have to sign up for Apple's Beta Software Program. To do that, go to beta.apple.com/sp/betaprogram, and click Sign Up. You'll have to enter your Apple ID and password, and agree to the terms and conditions. Tap iOS, and under Get Started, click Enroll your Apple device. From there you'll find more instructions on how to do so. 

Once you're part of the program, you can go to Settings > Software Update, and when you see iOS 14.5 Public Beta, hit Download and Install

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Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

How do I download iOS 14.5 when it's generally available? 

When it's released, you should get a prompt telling you that iOS 14.5 is now available and asking if you'd like to download it. Or you can do the following: 

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Select General

3. Tap Software Update

Your device will connect to Apple's servers and prompt you to download and install the update. Follow the prompts to complete the installation. When your device reboots, it will be running iOS 14.5. (Check out our full instructions on preparing your phone and downloading iOS 14 here.)

What devices are compatible with iOS 14.5?

iOS 14.5 will be compatible with all the same devices as iOS 14. Generally, these include the iPhone 6S ($250 at Best Buy) all the way up through the iPhone 12, along with the iPhone SE ($160 at eBay) and the iPod Touch ($159 at Back Market) (seventh-gen). For the full list of devices compatible with iOS 14, click here

Now playing: Watch this: iOS 14.5 beta reveals how to unlock an iPhone while wearing...
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What new features will iOS 14.5 include?

The latest version of iOS is going to bring several useful new features, including: 

Use Face ID on your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone -- even when wearing a mask

Apple Watch owners will be able to opt into a feature that lets you use Face ID to unlock your iPhone when your Watch is on and unlocked, even if your face is obscured by a mask. The Watch will provide haptic feedback letting you know your iPhone has been unlocked. 

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If you have an Apple Watch, iOS 14.5 will let you use it to more easily unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask.

Aleksandar Georgiev/Getty Images

Set a default music player of your choice

Apple Music might not have to be your default music player any longer. Instead, the first time you ask Siri to play something, it'll list all the music streaming services you have installed on your device. Simply choose which one you want to set as your default player, such as Spotify. The update was first spotted by Reddit users exploring iOS 14.5's beta versions and reported Monday by MacRumors

More than 200 new emoji

iOS 14.5 will include 217 new emoji, including new skin-tone variations for popular emoji such as couples kissing. You'll also find new emoji like heart on fire, faces exhaling, faces in clouds and faces with spiral eyes. Changes have also been made to the syringe emoji, removing blood to make it more appropriate for depicting vaccines. 

Choose a new voice for Siri

In the latest iOS 14.5 developer beta, Siri will no longer default to a female voice. Instead, you will be prompted to choose the voice you prefer for the digital assistant. The OS will include two new voice options for English speakers. Here's how to make the change once you download the new OS.

More Siri updates

Siri will soon have the ability to call 911 for you, with a prompt of, "Hey, Siri, call emergency." You'll see a three-second countdown, giving you the option to cancel the request. 

Stream Fitness Plus workouts with AirPlay 

iOS 14.5 and WatchOS 7.4 will let Apple Fitness Plus users stream workouts directly to AirPlay 2-compatible TVs and devices.

App tracking transparency 

iOS 14.5 includes privacy changes that will require apps to ask for user permission before tracking data and activity. This builds on a change released in iOS 14.3, which lets you see what data apps collect before you hit download

Dual-SIM 5G global support

iPhone 12 users will soon have dual SIM support globally, which means you can take advantage of the phone's physical SIM slot and digital eSIM to have two lines of service on the same phone. This support was previously only available in mainland China. 

Console controller support

With the update, Apple is adding iOS and iPadOS support for PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers, so you can play games on your phone or tablet. 

You'll also find some design changes to the Podcasts, News and Reminders apps. 

For more, check out some of the best hidden iPhone features we've found in iOS 14. And before you make any OS updates, make sure your iPhone and iPad are ready to do so

Shelby Brown contributed to this story.