Apple apparently intends to launch a promised Legacy Contacts feature in the upcoming iOS 15.2 and the iPad equivalent. This will allow friends or family members to access your data after you die.
It will prevent pictures and phone numbers from being permanently locked on an iPhone or iPad if someone passes away without giving out their passcode.
Preparing your digital legacy with Legacy Contacts
Apple recently seeded fresh iOS and iPadsOS betas, and the release notes for both state:
“Legacy Contacts has been added to iOS & iPadOS 15.2 beta 2, allowing users to designate people as legacy contacts for their accounts, as part of the Digital Legacy program.”
The feature was first unveiled at the WWDC Developers Conference in June 2021. It will allow users to assign one or more administrators who get access to photos, contacts, notes, etc. that have been uploaded to iCloud after the iPhone/iPad user has passed on. However, some data, such as saved credit cards and passwords, will be off limits.
It’s Apple’s answer to criticism it has received in the past for refusing to unlock devices or accounts after a user has died.
Only with a legacy access key and more
Apple seems aware that this is a potential weakness in iPhone security. That’s why getting access through its Digital Legacy program won‘t be quick and easy. “Your legacy contact will need to provide an access key and a copy of your death certificate to access data from your account,” reads a pop-up window in iOS 15.2 beta 2.
Beyond iPhone and iPad, Apple also started laying the groundwork for this on its Digital Legacy website.
With testing going on now, Legacy Contacts will likely debut in iOS 15.2 and iPadOS 15.2. They’re expected to be released to the public before the end of 2021.
Testing for macOS 12.1 beta 2 also began this week, but the release notes for it make no mention of Legacy Contacts.