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Apple readies its Legacy Contacts launch for easier after-death data retrieval

Icloud Plus Settings Ipados
Icloud Plus Settings Ipados (Image credit: Adam Oram / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple is working to ready its Legacy Contacts feature, making it possible for people to access a user's data after they die.
  • An updated iCloud suggests the feature is getting closer to launch.

Apple appears to be readying an iOS 15 feature that has so far been missing — Legacy Contacts. Part of the Digital Legacy program, Legacy Contacts are contacts that people can specify as those they'd like to be able to access their data in the event of their death.

The feature will effectively give specified people the key to access a person's iCloud data, although proof of death will be required and even then, only data that isn't end-to-end encrypted will be available. It's better than what Apple can offer now, though, and it seems to be getting closer to launch according to a couple of pointers spotted by MacWorld.

The first of those is a change to the iCloud usage agreement which specifically includes mention of what happens after death.

With Digital Legacy, you can choose to add one or more contacts to access and download certain data in your account after your death.If your designated contacts provide proof of death to Apple and have the required key, they will automatically obtain access to that certain account data and activation lock will be removed from all your devices. Thus, it is your responsibility to keep your Digital Legacy contacts up to date.

Secondly, a new website has been set up at digital-legacy.apple.com (opens in new tab), although it isn't yet enabled.

It's surely only a matter of time now before this iOS 15 feature is ready to go and it's an important one that could make a huge difference for families who would otherwise miss out on things like photos and other personal data.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.