Apple’s controversial privacy tool that allows you to block apps from tracking you around the web has been rolled out as part of its latest software update.
iOS 14.5, which became available to iPhone users on April 26, includes the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) tool, which requires developers wanting to collect data outside of their app to ask for user permission.
But there are a raft of other features that will also appear on iPhone once the update has been installed.
For instance, users will be able to unlock their iPhone while wearing a face mask, choose between a wider range of voices for digital assistant Siri, better sort through their reminders and report traffic incidents on Apple Maps. Here are our top five changes:
In the next few days, if you update your iPhone or iPad’s operating system to iOS 14.5, you will begin to be assailed by pop-ups asking you whether you want to let apps "track your activity". What’s that about?
It may appear as if the whole tech industry has suddenly lurched towards more intrusive surveillance. In truth, Apple has just forced companies to ask your permission for something many of them have already been doing invisibly for years.
Just as iPhone apps must get consent to access your location, your contacts or your camera, they must now do the same before they can see your unique advertising ID number, known as an IDFA, which can be used to track your behaviour from app to app and ultimately across the internet.
App makers routinely share users’ IDFAs with other companies such as Google and Facebook, which combine them to form a comprehensive picture of your smartphone habits. App makers in turn can use these systems to target specific people or check how many people who saw their adverts actually ended up using their products.
But IDFAs can also be shared, sold and leaked across the web, allowing unscrupulous entities to combine data on the same people from different services for their own ends. Hence Apple’s update, which lets iPhone users choose exactly which companies can track them.
Face mask facial recognition
With face masks now ubiquitous around the world, Apple is taking advantage of new advancements in facial recognition and enabling customers to unlock their iPhones without uncovering their nose and mouth.
However there is a catch. The feature only works when users also own and are wearing an Apple Watch.
Apple says: "With Apple Watch on the wrist, unlocked, and in close proximity to iPhone, users can simply glance at their iPhone and they will receive haptic feedback from Apple Watch, indicating their iPhone has been unlocked."
The new functionality works with iPhone X and later and Apple Watch Series 3 and later.
The update also lets users access a series of new emojis. Before, Apple emojis featuring couples did not let users choose a skin tone – they all came in the standard emoji yellow.
But now, emoji fans can choose couples with different skin tones, either kissing or next to a heart.
Other new emojis include a face exhaling, a face with "spiral eyes", a face in the clouds, hearts on fire, a mending heart and a woman with a beard.
Apple’s podcast app has also been redesigned as the company faces fierce competition from companies such as Spotify.
Apple says the changes will make it easier for users to start listening, as well as quickly access episodes that have been saved and downloaded.
The search tab will now include top Charts, categories and curated collections to also help listeners discover new shows.
Earlier in April, Apple unveiled its new £29 AirTags, small Bluetooth tags which users can use to find missing keys or wallets.
AirTags will then be able to communicate the item’s position to Apple devices via an end-to-end encrypted Bluetooth signal.
The new changes means the AirTags will be ready-to-use with updated phones.