Apple releases iOS 14.5.1 with a good iPhone privacy reason to update

Apple has released iOS 14.5.1, fixing a glitch with its newest privacy system that was preventing some iPhone users from adjusting the app tracking settings. Added with iOS 14.5 – which was released late last month – App Tracking Transparency requires apps to request permission from users before they collate data across multiple services, or sell personal data to brokers for advertising purposes.

It's proved to be a controversial introduction. Apple originally intended to launch the system earlier than iOS 14.5, but met with push-back from developers and ad networks. It was only ever delayed, however, and – despite Facebook and others protesting – it went live in April 2021.

The way App Tracking Transparency is meant to work is that users are offered the option to allow tracking or opt-out of it. If they choose to opt out, but the app developer continues to use the data anyway, they can be excluded from the App Store.

By default, App Tracking Transparency is meant to come with the setting to allow apps to make those requests turned on. However with the release of iOS 14.5, some iPhone users found that the toggle in the Settings page was grayed-out and couldn't be switched on. That meant apps weren't able to request permission.

It's something Apple addresses in today's iOS 14.5.1 release. "This update fixes an issue with App Tracking Transparency where some users who previously disabled Allow Apps to Request to Track in Settings may not receive prompts from apps after re-enabling it," Apple explains in its release notes.

The update also includes bug fixes and security patches, Apple says. It's a fairly small download in comparison to iOS 14.5, at only around 114 MB in our experience.

iOS 14.5 delivered more than just App Tracking Transparency, of course. The software also enabled Apple's long-anticipated Face ID enhancements for those wearing a mask, which allowed iPhones to be accessed as long as the user's unlocked Apple Watch was nearby. In addition, it enabled AirTag support, which is required not only to pair a Apple's new tracker to an iPhone, but also to receive alerts if a foreign AirTag is near to you and potentially tracking you surreptitiously.