Apple’s Legacy Contact feature: What is it, how to set up and use

iPhone legacy feature: Have you ever wondered what would happen to your data when you were to pass on from this life? If you are anything like me, you probably have. And if that’s the case, then this iPhone feature will be just as much of a relief to you as it is to me. Apple has a Legacy Contact feature, which debuted with its iOS 15.2 update. So if your iPhone has the 15.2 or higher update (or is eligible for it), you will also get this feature.

Before I dive into how to enable it, here’s a glance at what this feature does. In the simple words of Cupertino, the Legacy Contact feature is a simple way of allowing someone trustworthy to access your Apple account data after you pass away.

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A similar feature has been offered by Google and Meta for years now, and Cupertino is only just playing catch-up. Which means that this feature is actually long overdue. To be clear, it’s not that Apple did not let anyone access that data in the event of the death of a loved one. It did, only with a court order, though. Thankfully, that lengthy process has been done away with now in favor of a more convenient nomination of legacy contact by the user.

A user can set their legacy contact right from their iPhone. After ensuring that the phone is running on iOS 15.2 or later versions, a user needs to go to their Settings and click on their name at the top. Here, they’ll find a tab called Password & Security, upon clicking which, they will find the ‘Legacy Contact’ option.

Here, a user can add the contact they wish to pass their account to in the event of their death.

A few things to note here is that the legacy contact must be someone whom the user can trust as all the photos, videos, documents and more stored in the iCloud account would be shared with this contact. Another important thing is that a key is generated, and this key can either be printed or shared with the Legacy Contact directly. Without this key – and an accompanying death certificate – the Legacy Contact cannot access a user’s data. A user can add up to five Legacy Contacts.

These contacts would be able to access the contents of the user’s iCloud account for the most part, including calendars, contacts, files, email, messages, photos, notes, device backups, and downloaded apps, among other things. However, passwords stored in iCloud Keychain, and purchased licensed media like books, music or movies, would not be accessible to them.

It must also be pointed out here that a user cannot choose what data the contacts would be able to access. By enabling this feature, they would have to give access to all of this data, or they would have to sit out of it altogether.

Once a user passes away, their legacy contact, who would have received the key either via Messages (if they have an Apple device) or from the user, would need to go digital-legacy.apple.com and log in using their iCloud account or some other contact information, after which they would have to put in the access key. Alternatively, this can also be done on an Apple device from the Legacy Contact settings. They would then have to upload the death certificate of the user, and wait for it to be reviewed by the Apple staff for up to two weeks, before they get a link to set a password for the account. This password can be used to log in to an Apple device or on the web to access the data. This can be done by all the Legacy Contacts entered by the user.

Parts of the user’s account would be disabled, as the Legacy Contact would not be able to send text messages, though messages would still be received.

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