- Apple on Monday announced that it would allow users to store driver's licenses and physical IDs that will help them ditch physical documents.
- DigiLocker, a platform to issue and verify documents and certificates digitally and to eliminate the use of physical documents, was introduced back in 2015 in India.
- Apple notes that the identity card will be stored in the iPhone and Apple Watch's secure element, which make them encrypted.
Apple's digital-only annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2021 event brought about some significant software-related announcements for iPhone, Mac and Apple Watch, new features accompanying iOS 15 for FaceTime and iMessage, new privacy and storage features. Apple also announced major changes to the Apple Wallet, which may take some time to materialise, but might help users ditch their physical IDs in the US, much like the DigiLocker in India.
The government of India introduced DigiLocker back in 2015, a platform to issue and verify documents and certificates digitally and to eliminate the use of physical documents, encouraging paperless governance. DigiLocker provides access to authentic virtual documents and allows users to store documents like driving licence, PAN card, Voter ID, policy documents, among others. DigiLocker is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) under Digital India Corporation (DIC).
Apple's aim to replace physical documents like driver's licenses with an upgrade to the Apple Wallet in iOS 15 seems to take the same route of digital verification in India. Apple on Monday at the WWDC noted that it would add support for driver's licenses and hotel keys with Apple Wallet.
The new feature is US-specific for now and will function in participating states as not all states accept virtual IDs in the US. This means not all users in the US will be able to access the feature with the introduction of iOS 15, as it might take some time for the feature to work as states add support. Apple notes that adding an ID will be as convenient as opening the Wallet app. Users will be required to scan the front and back of the card, and it will automatically be added. When enabled, the feature will allow users to scan their license or state ID into their iPhones phone. This essentially means that the new virtual IDs will function the same as a physical ID card.
Jennifer Bailey, Apple's vice president of Wallet and Apple Pay, noted that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is also working to enable security checkpoints as the first place where users can use their digital ID. Bailey also noted that the identity card would be stored in the iPhone and Apple Watch's secure element, which makes them encrypted and is used for saving credit cards and other sensitive data, meaning the documents will be encrypted. DigiLocker, too, vouches for safety as it has noted in its FAQ that it is safe to use as it features a 256-bit secure socket layer (SSL) Encryption for information transmitted during any activity and standard practises.
Apple says it is also working to allow hotels to distribute room card keys via Apple Wallet, allowing users to collect a room key before they arrive at a hotel and also the ability to use their iPhone to unlock smart locks at home.