What is Apple's Digital Legacy Feature?

We’re storing increasingly large amounts of data in the cloud, much of it important. Apple have come up with a solution to the question: what happens to this data after you die?

Apple’s Digital Legacy program allows you to choose to allow someone, or multiple people, to access your digital information stored in the cloud in the event of your death. Your chosen Legacy Contacts will be able to access data stored in iCloud, such as photos, notes, mail and contacts. Mike Abbott, VP of Apple Cloud Services, said: “We don't often think about it, but it's important that we can easily pass down information to family members or friends when we pass away. So you'll now be able to add people to your account as Legacy Contacts”

In an increasingly digital world, the question of what happens to your digital data after you die has been tough to figure out. It’s been a tough dilemma for Apple, who pride themselves on protecting users’ privacy. It’s right that you keep your password safe and secure, but that would make it impossible for relatives or friends to preserve your memory, or access important information, in the event of your death. The Legacy Contacts feature allows you to adhere to best practices regarding passwords, while preserving your digital data. Facebook and Google already have similar systems in place, so this isn’t without precedent.  

First announced at back in June last year at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, or WWDC, Digital Legacy is a feature in iOS 15.2, and can now be set up on your iPhone. To do so, go to Settings > your name > Password and Security. Click on Legacy Contact, and follow the instructions. If you have family sharing members added, it will recommend these users as your Legacy Contacts; however, you can select anyone using their email or phone number. Your Legacy Contact will be notified, and if they accept, a copy of the access key is shared in their Apple ID settings; you will receive a notification if they decline. In the event of a death, a legacy contact will need a death certificate, the access key, and the user’s date of birth. Apple has set up a website specifically for Digital Legacy requests.

Apple Digital Legacy