California’s digital driver’s license debuts on Android and iOS

Summary

  • California has launched a digital driver’s license and ID program, allowing residents to hold a virtual copy of their driving credentials on their smartphones.
  • The CA DMV Wallet app now supports digital IDs on both Android and iOS, but users will still need to keep a physical ID or license on them.
  • The practical usage of digital IDs will be limited at first, but they are expected to be most helpful for TSA PreCheck at supported airports.


In an age where our smartphones hold everything from our favorite songs to our bank details, it’s not surprising that they are set to house our official IDs too. Particularly in California, the host to Silicon Valley, where digital transformation is underway — now, the state has officially launched its digital driver’s license and ID program, making it accessible for residents to hold a virtual copy of their driving credentials.

As reported by Android Police founder Artem Russakovskii, for Californians eager to switch to a digital format, the CA DMV Wallet app now supports digital IDs on both Android and iOS. Once downloaded, users can swiftly obtain their digital driver’s license, with some reporting the process taking just under a minute. However, it’s worth noting that as of now, this digital ID doesn’t integrate with Google Wallet’s digital ID feature.

To enroll in the mDL Pilot, you just need a valid California driver’s license or ID card, and it must be in good enough condition to be easily scannable by your phone’s camera. You’ll also need a MyDMV account, but creating one is free. From there, it’s just a matter of installing the DMV Wallet app and following the prompts to set up your digital ID.

The state admits that practical usage of this feature will be limited at first, and that digital IDs will be most helpful for TSA PreCheck at supported airports. California’s DMV also makes it clear that privacy is a priority, stating that “Usage is not tracked, and no data leaves your device without your consent.”

One of the main concerns voiced by users is the practicality of these digital IDs during scenarios like traffic stops. To this end, current procedures require drivers to still present a physical ID when pulled over by law enforcement. But the app includes a QR code system, allowing officers to simply scan the code for verification, a method already in use in some parts of the world for car documentation.

Google is not far behind in this digital transformation. As we previously covered, the tech giant is beta-testing a feature in Google Wallet that allows users to add state-issued IDs. This move comes after iPhones introduced the capacity to store digital copies of government-issued ID cards. Although this feature is currently limited to Maryland, the outlook suggests a broader rollout soon, with potential expansion beyond US borders in the foreseeable future. The beta visuals suggest a straightforward process to add IDs, with the added advantage of encryption for data security.


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