Samsung has unveiled its newest flagship smartphones and, with them, the latest sign that smartphone giants will pioneer the mainstream emergence of mobile ID technology.
Much like Apple’s new iPhones announced last autumn, Samsung’s new flagships are generally iterative upgrades of their predecessors, rather than major new redesigns. The Samsung Galaxy S22 and the S22+ both feature faster processors, longer battery life, and AI-enhanced imaging systems. The extra-premium Galaxy S22 Ultra goes a step further with a built-in S Pen stylus.
But the new devices all support a new software feature that could ultimately prove truly impactful in everyday life for a number of users: the Samsung Wallet app, which is designed to combine a number of digital assets including payment cards, keys, IDs, and vaccination and travel documents.
It’s a clear response to Apple’s mobile ID solution. At its Worldwide Developer Conference last June, Apple revealed that it was working to let iPhone users integrate virtual versions of their state IDs and driver’s licenses into the iPhone’s virtual wallet, and to have these virtual credentials recognized as official ID, just the same as physical ID cards would be.
To the latter end, Apple has been working with government authorities and the Transportation Security Administration. It has been slow going, with Apple having pushed back the launch of its mobile ID system from late 2021 to early 2022; at a recent Secure Technology Alliance workshop, TSA officials indicated that they were planning to enable mobile ID support at two airports in February of this year.
Samsung, for its part, has not yet disclosed any government partnerships with respect to the Samsung Wallet. In its announcements of its new Galaxy smartphones, the company said that the wallet app’s ‘Digital ID’ feature will launch “later this year”, adding that a “boarding pass and access ticket feature” in particular will first launch in South Korea.
While details are scant at the moment, the ambition of the Samsung Wallet is clear: to establish an app that essentially becomes an identity hub for Galaxy S22 users. Apple appears to be aiming to do much the same, having recently indicated that it plans to extend the functionality of its mobile ID into “retail and venues” applications. And with Apple and Samsung being highly influential premium brands around the world, it’s fair to expect their digital ID efforts to trickle down into the wider mobile ecosystem going forward.