“The company indicated that iPhone users in participating states will be able to add their driver’s licenses or state IDs to the Apple Wallet…”
Apple is taking a big step into the nascent mobile ID space, announcing that it will be adding virtual driver’s license capabilities to the iPhone’s Apple Wallet app later this year.
It’s one of a number of upgrades to Apple’s mobile operating system announced during this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference (“WWDC”), an annual Apple event. Unlike many other iOS 15 features announced this week, the mobile driver’s license functionality isn’t yet available, with Apple aiming to start rolling it out later this year.
The company indicated that iPhone users in participating states will be able to add their driver’s licenses or state IDs to the Apple Wallet, and that it’s working with the Transportation Security Administration to enable users to present these as official ID at airport security checkpoints. Virtual IDs will be encrypted and stored in the iPhone’s Secure Element to keep user data safe; the iPhone itself, meanwhile, is protected through biometric authentication, with most recent models letting users unlock their devices with a 3D face scan.
The plans indicate that other pioneers in the mobile ID space are going to face serious competition from one of the world’s biggest tech giants, though it’s also possible that there will be opportunities for collaboration. IDEMIA has been one such trailblazer with its own Mobile ID platform, which has seen real-world launches in select US states; and selfie onboarding giant FaceTec recently signalled its expansion into mobile IDs with its partnership with Scytáles.
Apple’s plans also indicate the increasing likelihood that mobile ID will go mainstream in the future, coming on the heels of the news that European Commission officials are developing a mobile ID app for use by all European Union citizens. That app will also support digital payment cards, making it a potential competitor to the Apple Pay mobile payments platform.
For its part, Apple isn’t stopping at digital IDs with its Apple Wallet upgrade. The company also announced that it has added support for additional types of keys, having introduced mobile car keys last summer. Its digital car keys now have the benefit of support for Ultra Wideband technology, enabling iPhone users to unlock and start compatible vehicles without the need to even touch their mobile devices; and Apple notes that the iPhone’s key support could also be used for keys to offices, homes, hotel rooms, and beyond.