Apple’s iOS 15 is packed with improvements to Apple’s Wallet app. With support for driver’s licenses and keys for everything from your home and hotel room to your car, you might even be able to find your for real wallet at home ̵
iOS 15 lets you save your driver’s license as ID ID
Apple wants to completely replace your physical wallet, but one of the main reasons people still have to carry a wallet is because of their ID. That could very well change with the arrival of iOS 15’s new Wallet app, which allows iPhone owners in “participating US states” to keep their driver’s licenses.
You can even use your iPhone as an ID while traveling. Apple said the Transport Security Administration (TSA) is “working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place to use your digital ID.”
Expect the feature to be limited to the few US states that have made progress with digital driver’s licenses. Apple hasn’t made any concrete announcements yet, but Louisiana was the first state to have a digital ID. Other states that have made progress with digital ID plans include Arizona, Delaware, Oklahoma, and Utah.
According to CNET, Iowa, Florida, Maryland, Wyoming, Idaho, California and New York are other states that are close to the rollout of digital ID. Apple hasn’t listed any states compatible with the new Digital ID feature yet, so take this information with a grain of salt.
Adding your driver’s license to Wallet is as easy as scanning it with your iPhone camera. Apple will store ID information in the same way that other sensitive information related to biometrics, Apple Pay and medical information is currently stored.
Apple says traveling with your iPhone as the sole source of ID is expected in “late 2021,” suggesting the feature may not be ready when iOS 15 is finally released.
Wallet unlocks your home, office or hotel room
In iOS 15, Wallet can now store keys for homes, offices, and hotel rooms. Tap a HomeKit lock with your iPhone XR or later to enter. For offices, Apple says you can add your company badge and then use your iPhone to authenticate at the door.
However, some of the most interesting features are reserved for hotel keys, with your room key delivered to your device as soon as it’s ready. You can then skip checking in at the front desk altogether, go to your room and unlock it with a tap. Global hotel chain Hyatt is already committed to rolling out the feature to more than 1,000 locations worldwide.
Other partners include locations such as Walt Disney World and smart lock suppliers such as Latch, Schlage and Proxy. Apple says Wallet will automatically archive your hotel keys when they’re no longer relevant (along with other expired items like boarding passes and event tickets — a long-awaited feature).
Your iPhone is also a car key
Also new in iOS 15 is support for ultra-wideband (UWB) car keys from automakers like BMW. The iPhone already supports unlocking car keys in Near Field Communication (NFC). This requires driver intervention to activate Wallet, much like when you pay with Apple Pay or tap a transit card.
With UWB support, iPhone is now capable of a seamless “unlock and drive” experience. You don’t even need to take your iPhone out of your pocket for this to work as it relies on proximity. Apple’s presentation showed some additional controls available in the Wallet app, such as the ability to manually lock or unlock the car, close the trunk, or activate the alarm.
Apple says BMW and others will ship cars with UWB by the end of 2021. With the feature still in its infancy, expect it to appear on something other than luxury and high-end vehicles for a few more years.
Contactless payment with Apple Pay
One of the biggest arguments for leaving your wallet at home is Apple Pay. The contactless payment system is now accepted in more countries and stores than ever before. You can search for “Apple Pay” in Apple Maps to find businesses that accept Apple Pay through an iPhone or Apple Watch.
To use Apple Pay, you need a bank account that supports the platform. You can test this by opening Wallet and trying to add your card. Once you’ve set it up, you can use Apple Pay anywhere you see the Apple Pay logos or contactless payment (above).
Still using cards? There’s a wallet for that
Most of us won’t be able to ditch our physical wallets when iOS 15 launches. This is especially true for iPhone owners who live outside the United States. Fortunately, you can still reduce the bulging wallet and consolidate your important cards with a MagSafe Wallet ($59.99) for iPhone 12 or later. With MagSafe, it attaches magnetically to the back of your iPhone.
Cheaper third-party MagSafe wallet
You don’t have to go for the Apple version either, with a third-party wallet from MOFT ($34.99) that offers the same snap-on functionality. In addition to additional functionality, such as a kickstand to put your iPhone on, the MOFT wallet costs almost half the price of the Apple version.
The biggest downside to this is that if you lose your iPhone, you also lose your cards. While digital cards can be easily replaced and reissued almost instantly, the same cannot be said for your driver’s license and bank cards. (Or try a thin wallet to disconnect your wallet from your iPhone.)
Not every iPhone is supported
The iPhone XS and XR were the first iPhone models to support NFC operations in the background, which do not rely on user input. For example, an iPhone X user cannot tap an NFC trigger and make the iPhone respond. This functionality is limited to the XS, XR and all models that came later.
Apple says that “device requirements may vary by hotel and workplace” regarding the new ability to store keys in Wallet, stating that an iPhone XS or newer is required to tap and unlock a HomeKit-enabled lock.
Users who want to use their AirTags as NFC triggers have encountered the same limitation on older devices. Don’t be surprised to learn that some of these features are not available on older devices.
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