Apple has quietly delayed the launch of its mobile ID system, yet is hinting that the project is more ambitious than it previously appeared.
The tech giant first unveiled its mobile ID project in June of this year, promising that users in select states would be able to upload virtual versions of their official driver’s licenses into the iPhone’s mobile wallet. At the time, Apple suggested that this functionality would arrive later in 2021.
Expectations were perhaps heightened when the company announced its initial partner states in the project toward the end of summer, with partners including Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona, and Georgia. It also revealed that it was working with the Transportation Security Administration to ensure that the mobile ID could be used by travelers as valid identification at airports, and confirmed that it would use a form of biometric selfie onboarding to confirm users’ identities.
Now, MacRumors has discovered that an update to Apple’s dedicated iOS 15 operating system webpage features an addendum to its mobile ID section that says, “Coming early 2022.”
No explanation has been provided for the delay, but it’s worth noting that the update appears to have come after CNBC’s publication of details about Apple’s formal agreements with its state-level partners in the mobile ID project. To many, the agreements appeared to give Apple a high amount of control over how mobile ID systems would be rolled out and promoted, while making maintenance costs the burden of partner states.
That having been said, it may also be worth noting that the government of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has also delayed its launch of its own mobile ID solution until 2022, with government officials explaining that they’ve had to prioritize resources toward the development of a more urgently needed vaccination status confirmation app for businesses. So far there has been no indication that Ontario was working with Apple on its mobile ID system.
Whatever the underlying cause of Apple’s delay, the company’s one-sentence note attached to the “ID cards” section of its iOS 15 page suggests that Apple plans to extend the mobile ID system’s functionality far beyond interactions with government officials and airport authorities. “Add your driver’s license or state ID to Wallet for use when you travel and, in the future, at retailers and venues,” the company says. It’s vague, but it suggests that Apple expects the mobile ID to eventually find use cases in payments and access that haven’t yet been specified.