What Happens to Content Purchased from Apple When You Die?


You use your Apple ID for a lot of different things. It’s your email account, if you use iCloud email; it’s your iMessages connection (though you can also use your phone number); and it’s especially the key to any content you’ve bought from Apple. You use it to buy from the iTunes Store, the Mac App Store, the iOS App Store, and the iBookstore.

But what happens to all that content when you die? Since your Apple ID is the key to all of this, if you haven’t given someone the password, then it becomes orphaned. In fact, according to Apple’s terms and conditions:

You agree that your Account is non-transferable and that any rights to your Apple ID or Content within your Account terminate upon your death.

This means that, not only do your next of kin not get access to purchases you’ve made from Apple, but also to your email, photos and documents, as long as they’re protected by an Apple ID.

The UK newspaper The Telegraph reports today that “Apple [...] refused to unlock iPad belonging to cancer victim’s son ‘without written permission’ of his late mother”. In this particular case, the son didn’t even want to access his mother’s content, but simply be able to use her iPad. Since Apple’s Activation Lock security prevents you from resetting an iOS device without the Apple ID and password of the current owner, there was no way this person could use the iPad as his own.

Apple does say that “Upon receipt of a copy of a death certificate your Account may be terminated and all Content within your Account deleted,” and, in this case, it finally deleted the account. But it seems like a very big hassle to go through, and one you might want to avoid.

For this reason, I strongly recommend that you leave your Apple ID password in a safe place for your next of kin, just in case. It could be written down and stored in a safe deposit box, or it could be stored in a password manager, if you have one, as long as your spouse, partner or children know the password to access that app.

I’ve written about The Problem with Apple IDs for Macworld, and this was one of the issues I raised.

Another point to make is that Apple’s terms and conditions make it clear that you do not own any content you purchase from the company, but are only granted access until your death. That’s a much more complicated issue that may, one day, have to be dealt with by the courts.

In any case, make sure you have a spare set of keys – your Apple ID password – in a safe place. Just in case.

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App Store Hypocrisy: Apple Bans Sexy Comic but Sells Tit Mags

According to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Apple has banned an issue of a comic from the Comixology app.

“After extended review, Apple has decided to ban Image Comics’ Sex Criminals #2 from ComiXology’s iOS app based on undisclosed violations of their content guidelines.”

Apparently, Apple sent the following statement to the publisher of the comic:

We found that one or more of your In-App Purchases contains content that many audiences would find objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.

I find it interesting that Apple can ban such content, while they continue to sell plenty of tit magazines via Newsstand. They’re not easy to find in iTunes, but if you look at the Newsstand store on an iOS device, and browse the “Men’s Interest” category, you get plant of magazines that are much racier than the Sex Criminals comic.


I doubt that Balloons Magazine is about hot-air ballooning. Or that America’s Kandy is about making fudge. In fact, both magazines’ description says that it contains “Frequent/Intense Sexual Content or Nudity.” If Apple allows this, why don’t they allow a risqué comic to be sold on its stores?

If you look at ebooks, you’ll also find a number of titles that would certainly be at least as racy as the banned comic:


But, hey, they redacted the word “Tits” in the first book’s title, so that’s okay.

There are plenty of tit magazines in the Newsstand store, and Apple seems to have no problem selling them. While there are restrictions available regarding downloading apps, movies and books – parents can choose to allow iOS and Mac users to download apps limited to a certain age – I don’t see any such restrictions on magazines (unless they are considered to be books). Since these restrictions exist, and Apple is clearly selling sexual content in one part of their store, they should be more consistent. I’m not suggesting Apple should allow the sale of pornography, but some of these magazines would be classified as porn by some people.

Also, if you look at the two books above – or any of the books in the “Erotica” category that I glanced at (for research purposes), you’ll see this:


Most of the porn books I looked at have no age ratings, so even with parental controls, kids of any age can buy them or get free samples of any of. It looks like Apple’s asleep at the wheel here.

Apple’s got a double standard here, and should really straighten this out.

Update: As a commenter pointed out, Apple sells Sex Criminals #2 in the iBookstore. How’s that for hypocrisy?

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Apple IDs Suck

Yep, that’s pretty much the state of Apple IDs. The number of problems I hear about from readers is astonishing. We all have one, if we ever buy anything from the iTunes Store, the Mac App Store, or use iCloud. And they cause problems.


I’ve written an article over at Macworld, The Problem with Apple IDs, looking at three issues that Apple really needs to fix. Have a look. If you have any other gripes about Apple IDs, feel free to post a comment here, or on Macworld. It might give me fuel for future articles.

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Apple’s Illogical App Store Upgrade Process (Updated)

FileMaker today released Bento 4 for iPad, which the company touts as a tool for creating databases on an iPad which the company calls “apps.” This is all well and good, but this upgrade revealed some inconsistencies in the iTunes Store.

First, if you search for Bento on the iTunes Store, you’ll see two versions of the program. (There are two iPad versions; there is one iPhone version, because that app did not get the upgrade.) So if you don’t have Bento, you won’t know which one to buy. The older one is just “Bento,” and the newer one is “Bento 4,” a big jump from version 1, which the older one bears.

Next, when you view the older version of Bento, you’ll see that it was updated today:

But that update seems to have just done one thing: it added this dialog when you launch the app on an iPad:

All this is very confusing. I understand that FileMaker wants to get people to pay for this upgrade, and the App Store – and the Mac App Store – have no way of selling apps at upgrade prices to existing customers. In fact, talking with a developer friend, it seems that there is no way to easily remove an app from either the iTunes App Store or the Mac App Store. Apparently one has to deselect all territories for the app to be sold in to remove it from sale. (This might have something to do with users being able to re-download apps, even after a developer has stopped selling them.)

But all this is confusing for users. Let’s say you just bought Bento, and found out, today, that there’s a new version. There’s no upgrade path, so you have to pay the full price for the new app. (To be fair, it is currently on sale for $5 – half price – but you have to spot the sale price before it’s too late.) Also, having two versions of the same app leads to confusion. People may come into the App Store from an external link in an article about Bento, and buy the older version, even now. At the very end of the app’s description, you can read the following text:

Please note: New Bento 4 for iPad is now available and sold separately. Bento is also available for the iPhone and iPod touch. Search on “Bento” to learn more.

But this requires that the user click on the More link in the description, and that they read all the way to the end.

Apple needs to figure out a better way to do this. It is illogical, confusing, and, in the end, unfair for many users who will end up buying older versions of apps that have been upgraded.

Update: Apple has now removed the older version of Bento from the App Store. I assume that users of the older version will still get the upgrade to the “new-older” version, the one with the dialog in the screen shot above, alerting them to the existence of the new version. But I’ve updated mine, so I can’t check.

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Apple and App Store Censorship

What’s the deal with this censorship, Apple? Ok, you banned jiggly boob apps, and even all apps that have babes in bikinis. One can argue for this in some ways, but you still sell an app from Playboy.

So now you censor a Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist for satire. This is an app with political cartoons; it’s satire, dudes. Seriously…

But at the same time, you sell and or rent Gas Pump Girls, a tit-illating movie if there ever was one. And you sell (or provide for free) many books that contain, well, sex, such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, or any number of serial-killer novels with graphic violence.

What’s the deal, Apple? Is the word “hypocrisy” not in your dictionary? You really need to establish some sort of clear, public guidelines, and stop refusing apps arbitrarily, while selling and renting stuff which is far more obscene than the kinds of apps you’ve turned down.

And please, don’t even think of censoring books…

Update: Apple has changed its mind. Which underscores how arbitrary this whole procedure is.

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How iPad Application Pricing Will Change the App Store Game

With today marking the dawn of a new era in computing (I seriously believe this, but only time will tell), Apple’s App Store is going to deliver different results to developers than it did for the iPhone. While lots of apps will sell for the iPad, this store is going to stop being the El Dorado that it has been for many developers. The App Store took off for the iPhone and the iPod touch in part because of pricing: when it’s just a buck or two to try an app that, in the end, you’ll only use a few times, you’ll take the plunge without second thoughts. Developers have sold, in some cases, more than a million copies of their 99-cent apps. But this is all about to change.

When Apple announced the prices of the first apps they presented – Pages, Keynote and Numbers, from their iWork suite – they set a new bar for App Store pricing. Instead of being one or two dollars, they are ten dollars each. Granted, these apps are designed to do far more than any dollar app, but if you look at the current top sellers for the iPad in the App Store (yes, lots of people are buying apps before getting their iPads), you can see that prices range from a handful of one- or two-dollar apps to a few 20-buck programs, but the majority float around the 5- and 10-dollar range.

Many of these apps will sell well, but nothing like the sales some developers have seen for iPhone apps. When you spend a buck, you can do it without thinking; when you spend five or ten, that’s another ball game.

Now, you could think, “But the iPad will sell millions of units.” True. But so does the Mac. There are very few applications for Mac OS X that sell in the hundreds of thousands of units. Most shareware developers don’t make much money from their programming. Sure, there are a handful of people who make a living, but very few, far fewer than the number of almost industrial iPhone app developers who churn out dollar apps like sandwiches.

For iPad developers to make a living, they’re going to need to provide unique solutions that provide essential functionality, not fart apps or games that people will play a few times and then delete. We will see some of the latter, just because developers can make them. But I don’t think anyone should expect the same type of app purchasing on the iPad as the iPhone. Part of this is because of the pricing bar that’s been set, but also because this is not a pocket device that people will whip out when they have five minutes to wait on line at the bank. The iPad is more of a “couch” device, and usage will reflect that. Time will tell exactly what types of apps people really use, but developers shouldn’t expect to sell what they did on the iPhone.

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