As iPhone adapts to COVID normal, update alters face unlock and emoji
Elsewhere, Apple is making several changes to its lineup of emoji, bringing in new options from the Unicode Consortium’s 13.1 release and subtly tweaking some existing pictographs. Notably, as COVID-19 vaccine programs roll out across much of the world, the syringe emoji is being altered so it appears to be full of clear liquid rather than dripping with blood.
There are also new smiley faces including “face in the clouds” and “exhaling face”, new hearts including one on fire and one in bandages, new customisation options that let you put a beard on any gender face or mix and match skin tones in couples emoji, and a redesigned headphone emoji that unsurprisingly looks exactly like Airpods Max.
As promised, Apple will also be instituting a new privacy rule at the launch of iOS 14.5 that will make it harder for services to track you across apps and websites to target ads.
Last year’s iOS 14 introduced a setting that let you opt in or out of this kind of tracking (which prompted a strong negative response from Facebook, in particular). As of iOS 14.5, even if you’ve opted in, each app must specifically ask your permission to begin tracking.
A less visible but certainly welcome change affects how Siri handles spoken requests for music. In the iOS 14.5 beta, the digital assistant asks you to nominate a favourite streaming service on your first request, and then uses that for subsequent requests. So if you favour Spotify or Deezer, you won’t have to worry about Siri repeatedly trying to open Apple Music.
Finally, in some more minor changes, the beta introduces wireless support for the game controllers that come with the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, the ability to stream Apple Fitness+ workouts on any AirPlay 2 compatible TV or display (unfortunately Apple Watch metrics appear to not be supported here), and 5G capabilities for Dual-SIM users of the iPhone 12 line.
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