Maryland is one of eight states that will soon launch digital versions of driver’s licenses and ID cards in the Apple Wallet.
The digital versions promise to bring the convenience of not bringing a wallet along for those that want it but may also spur confusion as the new technology rolls out.
Apple aims to get rid of your physical wallet and already allows users to store their credit cards, insurance cards, store loyalty cards; airline, sports, and concert tickets; car and house keys; and even SmarTrip transit cards. The digital ID feature will roll out with the release of the iOS 15 operating system for iPhone this September. The new OS will also allow security companies to use the iPhone to replace those ubiquitous cards and fobs to swipe into the office or apartment.
“Maryland is proud to be a leader once again in safe innovation with the implementation of mobile driver’s licenses,” said Gov. Larry Hogan in a press release. “As we look to the future, we are committed to enhancing convenience and accessibility while maintaining the highest safety and security standards for our state and citizens.”
It’s unclear when exactly Maryland will start to allow residents to use the feature. (The Motor Vehicle Administration did not respond to questions sent this morning.) Arizona, Georgia, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Utah are among the other states adopting the new feature. It’s unclear when D.C. and Virginia will launch their versions. D.C.’s council is currently trying to pass a bill to allow digital licenses. Virginia’s DMV says they look forward to learning more about the digital licenses. Apple says they’re working with other states and hope to have the feature nationwide.
About a dozen states and the federal government already are exploring ways to digitize official forms of ID.
Once the feature does launch in your state, Apple says it will be similar to adding a credit card: You tap the + button at the top of the screen in Wallet, scan your license or ID, and then take a series of selfies for verification purposes. Once verified by the state, the customer’s ID or driver’s license will be added to Wallet.
In a press release, Apple says it worked with the Transportation Security Administration to allow the use of digital IDs at “select airport security checkpoints at participating airports.” You would tap your phone or Apple Watch at the checkpoint without having to take out your physical ID or handing over your device, then use Face or Touch ID to verify your identity.
“This new and innovative mobile driver’s license and state ID initiative with Apple and states around the country will enable a more seamless airport security screening experience for travelers,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement. “This initiative marks a major milestone by TSA to provide an additional level of convenience for the traveler by enabling more opportunities for touchless TSA airport security screening.”
Participating states and the TSA will announce at a later date when and where mobile licenses will be supported.
But since it’s a new technology, it’s unclear how restaurants, bars, and retailers will adapt or if they’ll initially accept this new form of identification to purchase alcohol or tobacco. The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington says they are closely watching the development but had no comment on the matter.
For all the convenience a digital ID could bring, you could be in a pickle if you don’t carry your physical ID and your phone battery dies. Online commenters also said they were uncomfortable handing over an unlocked phone to police during a traffic stop.
Touting the security and privacy features, Apple says neither it nor the states will know when or where users present their IDs. Apple is using what’s known as the ISO 18013-5 standard.
“Driver’s licenses and state IDs in Wallet take full advantage of the privacy and security built into iPhone and Apple Watch. Customers’ identity data is encrypted and protected against tampering and theft,” Apple said in the release. “Biometric authentication using Face ID and Touch ID ensures that only the person who added the ID to the device can view or present their ID or license in Wallet.
If users’ phones are lost or stolen, the information can be wiped remotely.