Apple's digital ID finally starts to roll out but what does it do?

The ability to store your driving license or state ID in your Apple Wallet opens up a world of possibilities but it will take time to be useful

Apple Digital ID
(Image credit: Future)

Apple unveiled its Digital ID with the launch of iOS 15 back in June 2022 but it's only with the new iOS 15.4 that we've seen the feature starting to roll out. The Digital ID is designed to let users store their driving license or State ID in their Apple Wallet and use their phone in its place. The plan is that eventually, everywhere you would normally show your ID, would then accept the digital version on your phone. 

That didn't mean just buying booze at the supermarket or in the bar, it included law enforcement, banks and even boarding a plane. TSA checkpoints in the US would be able to read the required data from your phone and police could scan your phone for the required information. 

This is a big step and understandably requires a lot of moving parts to come together. So it's no surprise that activation has been slow. This week though, Arizona driver's license holders can now start to use the functionality with another 12 states and territories expected to join soon. 

Apple Digital ID

(Image credit: Future)

The process of adding your license or State ID is no different from adding a credit card to the Wallet. You choose the type of ID you wish to add (right now there's only one choice) then you are asked to take a picture of the front and rear of the ID. Depending on the state, you may then be asked to verify the ID, using a login process or facial ID.

According to 9to5 Mac, the only TSA checkpoints that will currently accept the digital ID are those at Phoenix International Airport and for now drivers will still need to carry their physical license with them at all times. In time, police will have NFC readers that can read from the phone. Hopefully, as Digital IDs become more common, the need for physical cards will reduce. Especially as the service rolls out to more states.

Currently, there's been no mention of the feature going international. It would make sense though, and I'm sure in time other countries will trial the digital wallet for identification. Just don't expect it to be replacing your passport anytime soon.

As T3's Managing Editor in the US, Mat has his finger on the pulse for the latest advances in technology. Originally from the UK, he has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing and Hong Kong, is now based in Chicago. He’s a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, electric cars, musical instruments or travel.