11 Ways The iPhone Software Upgrade Will Be Awesome

It’s all a bit surprising: usually Apple’s iOS update cycle gets quieter as it goes on. The big upgrades come at the beginning, followed by a couple of intriguing extras relatively early on and from then on it’s just bug-squishing and the occasional modest new feature until the end.

Not this year.

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The next big update, iOS 14.5, is due very soon and will be easily the biggest mid-cycle upgrade in recent years, probably ever. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that it’s coming in the next few weeks—though I suspect it’ll be sooner than he’s letting on—and is highly anticipated. Here are 10 reasons why, and while the list gets longer with every new developers’ beta, I think this is probably the complete set.

1. Unlock with Apple Watch

In these mask-wearing days, unlocking your iPhone can be a pain. It takes a little longer for the iPhone to see it can’t confirm if it’s you or not and offer up the passcode screen. Well, if you have an Apple Watch, and it has a passcode enabled, then you’re in business. When you go to unlock the phone, the iPhone checks with your Apple Watch which, in a split-second, confirms it’s you and unlocks the phone.

But what about Apple Pay, you ask? The mechanism only authorizes an unlock, not a payment, so you’ll need your passcode for that or, since you’re wearing an Apple Watch, double-press the Side button to make the payment.

This is one of those tiny improvements of convenience that you’ll be glad of every time you use it.

2. App Tracking Transparency

This is a Very Big Deal. Currently, apps use something called Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) as a way of tracking you on your phone across apps and across services. It uses a random device identifier to deliver customized advertising. IDFA is loved by advertisers because it is an accurate means to track iOS users. Data can be collected and even sold online.

If that sounds somewhere between annoying and downright creepy, well, you’ll like App Tracking Transparency. It requires apps which track you to ask your…