Here’s Why iOS 14.5 Is Going To Be a Game Changer for Privacy Advocates

3 privacy features are about to offer iPhone owners more control over their data

Anupam Chugh
Feb 28 · 4 min read
What’s New in iOS 14.5 Privacy features? ATT, Google Safe Browsing Proxy, Face ID with apple watch and mask. Apple Maps and Music.
What’s New in iOS 14.5 Privacy features? ATT, Google Safe Browsing Proxy, Face ID with apple watch and mask. Apple Maps and Music.
Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

When Apple first unveiled the new iOS 14 features in WWDC 2020, there weren’t a lot of noticeable changes barring the widgets and revamped home screen.

After an enormous iOS 13 update, the world was expecting the iOS 14 update to be a lot more subtle with incremental changes and fixes. However, when it came to privacy lovers, Apple certainly had some big plans.

With the introduction of approximate location, local network permission, dot indicators while the camera or microphone is in use, limited photo library access, restricted clipboard permission, and the ability to know your compromised passwords, the Cupertino tech giant brought in some robust features to ensure its users fall in love with the iPhone once again.

Without a doubt, iOS 14 has been Apple’s biggest privacy update in recent years. And just when we thought the show is over, the iPhone maker surprised us once again by releasing the App Store privacy report and labels feature much to the dismay of Facebook and Google.

Yet, it’s the upcoming iOS 14.5 update that’s going to be a game-changer since it brings in a few more privacy enhancements to help tighten the noose on data security. Let’s walk through what those updates actually do.

One Can Unlock Face ID with Apple Watch and Partial Scan

While people were wearing masks constantly in the year that went by, Apple surprisingly decided to stick with Face ID knowing it has limitations and erroneous detections.

Even the new iPhone 12 despite boasting of the best ever camera specifications couldn’t quickly come up with a better face-tracking technology that accounts for masks.

Gladly with the introduction of iOS 14.5 you can say bye-bye to removing masks for unlocking your iPhone. Instead, the latest software update includes a few privacy-safe workarounds by leveraging your Apple Watch. Basically, with the help of a passcode-enabled watch that’s unlocked and nearby you can unlock your iPhone when you’re wearing a face mask with a partial scan.

From a distance, this might seem like a privacy breach. After all, how can another device be allowed to decrypt your iPhone’s password? But from the initial impressions, Apple has played a smart move by leveraging Ultra-Wideband technology.

The UWB uses the UI chip that’s embedded in all Apple devices to access the spatial location of nearby devices in a secure way. Besides, since Apple is releasing the latest watchOS update alongside iOS 14.5, one can expect them to have set up a singular security function in their codebases across the watch and iPhone.

App Tracking Transparency Framework Would Let Users Disable Personalized Ads

After first revealing the opt-in ad tracking feature in WWDC2020 Apple is finally gearing up towards its launch this spring.

For those who aren’t aware, the Cupertino tech giant has released a new framework named AppTrackingTransparency (ATT). This means developers would now be required to receive user’s consent before tracking them across apps. So, advertisers would no longer be able to leverage the IDFA to uniquely micro-target a specific user or access their device’s advertising identifier without prior consent.

Unsurprisingly, companies such as Facebook that were minting money out of personalized ads to connect small businesses with certain customers have been criticizing this privacy feature as they now stand at risk of losing out on ad revenue due to the lowered CPM costs.

Admirably, Apple has also included an option that lets you toggle “Allow apps to request to track” from the privacy settings to allow or block ad tracking across all apps on your iOS device.

Safer Google Browsing On Safari through Apple’s own servers

If tightening the noose on Facebook wasn’t enough, Apple has brought a bazooka for Google as well.

We all know how Google has been exploiting AMP(Accelerated Mobile Pages) to create its own walled garden on the internet. For those who don’t know, Google AMP was a feature released to optimize mobile web page loading in a bid to make the user experience a lot similar to native apps.

To do so, Google AMP strips the bloated and obfuscated JavaScript code and adds its own /amp URL by default. Besides boosting web apps, this feature also gives Google access to the website that you’re viewing since AMP-enabled pages ensure you’ve never really their google domain.

Now with iOS 14, Apple has created a sort of proxy Google server for its Safari browser. This means every Google request would route through Apple’s own server thereby giving the search engine giant no access to the IP address.

Earlier Google Safe Browsing used to share your IP addresses to look for unsafe websites. This again is a great move to bolster privacy and ensure Safari browsing is safe. Now with iOS 14.5, Apple ensures your IP address isn’t shared with another company as their own proxy servers would redirect the Google Safe Browsing traffic.

Conclusion

iOS 14.5 will have a slew of other enhancements as well. Siri would no longer force Apple Music as the default music app. So, one can easily make set Spotify or other third-party music services as the default. This is a good play by Apple who’ve been long called out for using their dominant platform to promote in-house apps.

On the other hand, Apple Maps will now bring accident and other real-time traffic reporting features.

The upcoming iOS software update is certainly going to be a massive deal for a minor version upgrade — especially for privacy lovers.

That’s it for this one. Thanks for reading.

The best stories for Apple owners and enthusiasts

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store