When Apple first announced the iOS 15 update for iPhones earlier this year, one of the smaller but more noteworthy feature inclusions — especially to us Jalops — was the ability to scan and keep your driver’s license in your device’s Wallet app. Apple said it was working with states, as well as airports and the Transportation Security Administration, to allow travelers to use such digital ID cards in place of physical ones. That feature was pegged for launch by late 2021, but 2021 is nearly finished, iOS 15 has been available to the public for months and it’s still not here yet.
Rest assured though, it’s coming — you’ll just have to wait a little longer, until “early 2022” to be slightly more precise. The company has updated the relevant part of the iOS 15 information page on its website with a new release window, a change MacRumors caught on Tuesday.
To be honest, I wasn’t even aware this feature was in the works for iOS 15, so this is all news to me. In any case, you probably won’t be able to take part early next year unless you live in one of the few states that has pledged its support.
Back in September, Apple said that “Arizona and Georgia will be the first states to introduce this new innovation to their residents, with Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah to follow.” Florida exhibited interest a short time later, after officials clarified their stance in front of a state Senate panel last month:
Florida was left off a recent list of states Apple is partnering with for Wallet digital IDs, concerning [Senate Transportation Committee Chair Gayle] Harrell. [FLHSMV motorist modernization director Terrence] Samuel was surprised the state wasn’t on the list, but the department has now exchanged information with Apple in the hopes of getting added to the list of partners.
“There’s nothing that we see that would prevent us from being on the list,” Samuel said.
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I’m sure tech-savvy Floridians appreciated Samuel’s comment, even if it’s a depressing reminder that oftentimes the only reason government lags in adopting these sorts of initiatives is because somebody forgot to or didn’t know to send an email. Semi-related, but my healthcare provider still doesn’t cooperate with Apple to allow COVID-19 vaccination cards within the Wallet app, which is pretty dang annoying.
Anyway, when this iOS 15 feature does launch, it’ll support state IDs as well. The setup process is bit more involved than simply taking a picture of the relevant document. You’re also required to snap a selfie for verification — which will be shared with the issuing state — and present your face from multiple angles, presumably to confirm you are enrolling yourself and not a photograph of someone else. Here’s how Apple describes it:
The customer will then be asked to use their iPhone to scan their physical driver’s license or state ID card and take a selfie, which will be securely provided to the issuing state for verification. As an additional security step, users will also be prompted to complete a series of facial and head movements during the setup process. Once verified by the issuing state, the customer’s ID or driver’s license will be added to Wallet.
After setup and in practice, you’ll have to authenticate using Face ID or Touch ID for the screen to display the document’s contents. Yup, that’s right — not even passcodes are allowed for this.
The idea is that the ID will be shown alongside a QR code or similar pattern that can be scanned by law enforcement, so the device never needs to leave the user’s hand. That’s reassuring, though of course it relegates your phone and the sensitive information on it to the same abuses of power that might result in a cop forcibly making you look at your device to unlock it. So, you know — use it at your own risk, and remember to turn off biometrics if you’re attending a protest.
It’s a nice convenience in some situations but I don’t think I like the idea of handing my unlocked phone over to an officer. Rather just hand them a license.