Your iPhone can't be your driver’s license until 2022 - here's why

Apple Wallet state ID
(Image credit: Apple)

Way back in June, Apple announced that with iOS 15, iPhone users would be able to add their driver's license or state ID to the Apple Wallet app, but not only is that feature still not available - it's actually been delayed.

While Apple hasn't announced this as such, MacRumors (opens in new tab) spotted that the date for the feature has been changed from late 2021 to early 2022 on Apple's website (opens in new tab).

The company doesn't get any more specific than that, but - unsurprisingly given this delay - the feature hasn’t been activated in the latest iOS 15.2 beta, which was released on November 16.

The feature - whenever it arrives - is designed to help users to show digital IDs instantly and securely whenever required.

It was first introduced at WWDC 2021 and was initially expected to be made available to the residents of Arizona and Georgia followed by Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah. The company has reportedly been in touch with various state governments to ensure a seamless nationwide rollout. That said, there is no specific reason mentioned behind this delay.

According to Apple, TSA security checkpoints at select airports across the US will be among the first places where users will be able to flash their IDs stored in the Wallet app.

The best part about this feature is that once the IDs are added to the wallet, users only need to tap their iPhone or Apple Watch on the identity reader device. It eliminates the need to pull out the physical ID or hand over the iPhone/Watch to security personnel.

While the focus is on travel right now, Apple's goal is for users to eventually be able to use these digital IDs at retailers and venues too. And while this will initially only be for the US, it's likely to get a wider rollout eventually.

Analysis: truly contactless

Several smartphone makers and national governments have already come up with solutions that help users to carry their ID documents digitally on their phones, such as the DigiLocker service in India.

However, these solutions aren't perfect, as they typically require users to hand over their device to security personnel. Thus, the process isn't exactly contactless, though it does help by people not having to carry hard copies of multiple ID documents in their wallets.

But the solution that Apple plans to offer takes contactless verification to the next level. Here users aren't required to hand over the device - be it an iPhone or Apple Watch, and all they need to do is to tap on the designated reader.

And while Apple's solution is likely more secure, its truly contactless nature presumably makes it more difficult to implement as well and requires deeper co-ordination between various government agencies - which might be the reason behind this delay.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.