Your iPhone Will Be Your Driving License

Your iPhone is already your wallet, boarding card, ticket, credit card, front door key, vehicle keys, and health assistant, but you can add new status as your driving license to the list.

The UK’s driving license authority, the DVLA, will introduce a driving license for the Apple Wallet in iOS, it announced in 2017.

The plan is to pilot this starting in September and make it available to all UK drivers next year. There are some limitations (not least the need to register with an online government department) and this will not replace existing licenses, or at least, it won’t yet.

DVLA chief executive Oliver Morley quietly revealed these plans last year when he tweeted an image from his smartphone, featuring a driving licence, together with the message: “So here’s a little prototype we’re working on”, but what has changed is that UK drivers now have a time line for the move.

It all seems a little inevitable, of course.

As long ago as 2015, Apple’s iTunes/Apple Pay chief, Eddy Cue, said Apple’s ultimate ambition is for the iPhone to replace your passport, and as new biometric, retina, and face-recognition ID technologies wait in the wings it seems clear the company is putting the pieces in place to achieve just that.

U.S. passport holders can already use the officially-recognised Mobile Passport app to submit their passport control and customs declaration information when going through twenty U.S. airports, an extension of such facility seems inevitable.

Moving forward, it’s tempting (if a little frightening) to predict that as smartphones morph into wearable devices, eventually the only ID you’ll need for almost every transaction will be your Apple Watch. Though woe betide any traveller whose iPhone or Apple Watch runs out of power during their flight, as without more conventional ID how will they get through the line?

All the same, it seems quite noteworthy that UK drivers (at least) will soon be able to use Apple Wallet when asked for their driving license.

This, of course, is also why it’s so utterly wrong for customs and law enforcement to be granted casual access to these devices from people who have not been accused of any crime.

The magnitude of damage that could conceivably be caused against an innocent person by a rogue agent with password access to their victim’s device means any intelligent government should do everything it can to protect the ID on smartphones.

I wonder if this is all the license you’ll need by the time Apple ships its Apple Car?

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

3 Responses

  1. AR says:

    Yes….take may phone back to your vehicle and plug it into your ‘computer’…….what could go wrong with this scenario?

    From a US reader.

  2. Czar Embo says:

    To this juncture, I’ve been all in favor of using technology for something like this. However, the invasion of privacy is of the overwhelming concern. Taking a phone across any border invites government intrusion into our lives. No thanks to an electronic driver’s license – it is just too invasive. I concur with AR’s comment wholeheartedly.

  3. Robert Ferguson says:

    My current NYS drivers license has a bar code on it which means a police officer merely needs to scan that bar code to access my driving record. I would think a driver license app in Apple wallet would work in a manner similar to a boarding pass where a mere scan is required and the iphone never leaves your hand.

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