iOS 14 update: The new iPhone features you might not have heard about in latest Apple software update

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Tuesday 27 April 2021 10:02
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Apple’s iOS 14.5 has finally arrived – bringing a host of new features.

Two have taken up much of the attention: new anti-tracking technologies that stop advertisers watching you between apps, and the ability to unlock your phone while wearing a mask, so long as you have an Apple Watch.

But as well as those major ones, iOS 14.5 brings a host of other, smaller changes, some of which might actually change your day-to-day life more.

Here are the less discussed new updates in the update, which can be downloaded from the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

Podcast app updates

The default Podcasts app has received a wide-ranging update, as teased during Apple’s Spring Loaded event last week. It comes ahead of the introduction of its new premium “Subscriptions” service, which allows producers to charge for podcasts, though that is yet to launch.

For now, though, you will be able to see the new look, which will appear on podcasts themselves. There are other smaller tweaks to how it works, including better charts and the option to choose download behaviour for each show.

New News changes

The News app has also received its own redesign. That mosly applies to the paid-for News+ service – which has a redesigned tab that should make it easier to find and manage stories – but the search has been improved too.

New Siri voices

There are a host of changes to Siri – some of them technological, some of them more about choice. Many of them relate to the voice it uses.

Perhaps most notable about the changes is that Siri will no longer default to a given “male” or “female” voice as it has in the past. When a new phone is set up, users will be asked which of the options they’d like, which will not be gendered – though any existing phones that are updated to the new software will keep the same voice they already have.

Those voices have also received improvements. They should sound more organic and natural as a result of improvements to the text-to-speech engine, Apple said, and it has also made more specific improvements to the voice in Ireland, Russia and Italy.

New Siri music options

Another of the improvements to Siri is that it will now allow the voice assistant to play music from other services, such as Spotify. The way it works is not entirely obvious – Apple has not added a setting to choose your default music service, and instead Siri will try and learn – but it should mean that asking for songs should bring them up in whatever app you tend to use.

New emoji

Last year, a host of new emoji were agreed on and they have now come to the Apple Watch. There are more than 200 in all, some minor updates – like a face disappearing into clouds – and other important forms of representation.

There is now support for separate skin tones in the couple-kissing emoji, for instance. And the look of the needle emoji has been changed, so that it no longer has blood dipping from it.

AirTags

The new update also brings support for AirTags, Apple’s new device tracking items. You’re unlikely to notice if you don’t have them, but if you do buy some then you’ll need to make sure your phone is updated.

Other smaller features

There are a host of other features, too, many of them adding neat but small tweaks. They include the option to see speed limits in Apple Maps; the ability to stream Fitness+ workouts over AirPlay; support for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X controllers; a boot screen that will appear the right way up when the iPad is turned horizontally; and new “city charts” in Apple Music.

It also fixes a number of bugs, including apparently at last solving a problem that would stop new messages from appearing in the Mail app until the phone was restarted.

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