Apple Digital Legacy in iOS 15: What is it and how to use it

Digital Legacy in iOS 15 what is it and how to use it

Passing away of someone close is always heartbreaking. Thanks to the technology available to us these days, we can cherish the moments by looking at the old pictures and videos. But more often than not, many of those are tied to the account of the deceased person. Apple aims to solve this with Digital Legacy in iOS 15. Let’s learn more about this new feature.

What is Digital Legacy in iOS 15, and how it works?

Digital Legacy in iOS 15 lets you securely pass down your data, such as photos, videos, notes, and other information, to trusted friends and family members. It will allow your close ones to access your files after you’re gone.

And as hard as it is to look at the photos of a deceased person, this feature makes sense when you have to access data related to their billing accounts, insurance emails, and others.

In iOS 15, you’ll be able to add contacts to pass your ‘Digital Legacy.’ Your close ones can request a copy of your data using an Access Key and a copy of the death certificate. Upon verification from Apple, you’ll be able to download the files of the deceased person.

Note: Digital Legacy will be available on all Apple devices, including Mac, iPhone, and iPad running macOS 12 Monterey, iOS 15, and iPadOS 15, respectively. Digital Legacy will rollout with stable versions of the operating systems “this fall.”

What data can Digital Legacy contacts see?

What data can Apple Digital Legacy contacts see

After you’ve added a family member as a Digital Legacy contact, they’ll be able to access all the data linked to your account, including:

  • Messages
  • Mails
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Documents
  • Notes
  • Contacts
  • Calendar events

However, the trusted contacts can’t view information like your iCloud Keychain, payment information, subscriptions, and licensed media.

There’s also an expiration date for the data. It means that you’ll only have a specified number of days before which you will have to download all the data. As a plus point, Apple allows you to directly import the data to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Can Apple see the data of a deceased family member’s iCloud account?

No. When you request a copy of the data, Apple will securely package the contents into a zip file, which you can then download. Apple ensures that every step involved in this process is encrypted, and none of the data can be seen by Apple.

How to add a Digital Legacy contact on iPhone running iOS 15

  1. Open iPhone Settings and tap your name.
  2. Select Password & Security and select Legacy Contact.

    Select Legacy Contact from iPhone Settings running iOS 15
  3. Next, Tap the Add Legacy Contact button.
  4. Now, again tap Add Legacy Contact button.
  5. Enter your Apple ID password and sign in.
  6. Search for your trusted contact and hit Continue. This will generate an Access Key for your account.
    Anyone who tries to download your data will require this Access Key.

    Add Digital Legacy contact on iPhone running iOS 15
  7. Tap Print a Copy and save the Access Key as a PDF.

    Tap Print a Copy and save Access Key as a PDF on iPhone

You can share this Access Key to the trusted contact via email, WhatsApp, or your preferred method of communication. Remember that the trusted contact will be required to upload the Access Key at the time of data request, ensuring a cloud backup of the Access Key is available.

How to manage and delete Digital Legacy contacts in iOS 15

If your trusted contact misplaces your Access Key, or you don’t want someone to have a key to your account, you can delete a contact from Digital Legacy.

Download Digital Legacy Access Key

  1. Open iPhone Settings and tap your profile.
  2. Select Password & Security and scroll down to Legacy Contact.
    You’ll see all of your Legacy contacts in this list.
  3. Select the contact for whom you want to download the Access Key.
  4. Tap View Access Key and save it as a PDF (again).
  5. Now, share it with your legacy contact.
Download Digital Legacy Access Key on iPhone in iOS 15

Remove a contact from Digital Legacy

  1. Open Settings → tap your profile name Password & Security → select Legacy Contact.
  2. Next, select the contact for whom you want to revoke Digital Legacy.
  3. Below the View Access Key button, tap Remove.
  4. Select Remove again to confirm.
Remove a contact from Digital Legacy on iPhone

Download data of a deceased family member’s iCloud account

Since the feature isn’t accessible yet, it is unclear how a Digital Legacy contact can request a copy of the data of a deceased person. However, according to the screenshots Apple shared at WWDC 21, you could request data from

Download data of a deceased family member’s iCloud account

Remember that you’ll need to share a copy of the death certificate and the Access Key to request a copy of the data. The data also has an expiration date, so you’ll need to download it before it is permanently deleted.

Digital Legacy proves to be a valuable tool, certainly in this ‘digital’ era. It shows how we have evolved and become dependent on technology.

I hope you understood everything about Digital Legacy in iOS 15 and how you can enable it on your iPhone. If you have any doubts or related queries, share them in the comments below!

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