Apple’s iOS 15 is packed with enhancements 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 leave your real wallet at home—permanently.
iOS 15 Lets You Store Your Driver’s License as an ID
Apple wants to replace your physical wallet entirely, but one of the main reasons that people still need to carry a wallet is for their ID. That could very well change with the arrival of iOS 15’s new Wallet app, which allows iPhone owners in “participating U.S. states” to store their driver’s licenses.
You can even use your iPhone as a form of ID when traveling. Apple said that the Transport Security Administration (TSA) is “working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place you can use your digital ID.”
Expect the feature to be limited to the few U.S. states that have made headway 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 moved forward with digital ID plans include Arizona, Delaware, Oklahoma, and Utah.
According to CNET, other states that are close to rolling out digital ID include Iowa, Florida, Maryland, Wyoming, Idaho, California, and New York. Apple has yet to name any states that will be compatible with the new digital ID feature, so take this information with a pinch of salt.
Adding your driver’s license to Wallet is as simple as scanning it with your iPhone camera. Apple will be storing ID information in the same way that other sensitive information relating to biometrics, Apple Pay, and medical information is currently stored.
Apple says that traveling with your iPhone as the sole source of ID is expected in “late 2021,” which suggests that the feature might 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 your iPhone XR or later on a HomeKit-enabled lock to enter. For offices, Apple says that you can add your corporate badge and then use your iPhone to authenticate at the door.
Some of the most interesting features are reserved for hotel keys, though, with your room key being delivered to your device as soon as it’s ready. You can then skip checking in at the front desk entirely, head up to your room, and unlock it with a tap. Global hotel chain Hyatt is already committed to rolling out the feature to over 1,000 locations worldwide.
Other partners include locations like Walt Disney World and smart lock vendors like Latch, Schlage, and Proxy. Apple says that 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-overdue feature).
Your iPhone Is a Car Key, Too
Also new in iOS 15 is support for ultra-wideband (UWB) car keys from auto manufacturers like BMW. The iPhone already has support for near-field communication (NFC) car key unlocking. This requires intervention from the driver to trigger Wallet, just as it does when you pay with Apple Pay or tap a transit card.
With UWB support, the 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 since it relies on proximity. Apple’s presentation showed off some additional controls that are available in the Wallet app, like the ability to manually lock or unlock the car, close the trunk, or trigger the alarm.
Apple says that BMW and others will start shipping cars with UWB in late 2021. With the feature still in its infancy, don’t expect it to appear on anything but luxury and high-end vehicles for a few years yet.
Make Contactless Payments 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 will accept Apple Pay via an iPhone or Apple Watch.
To use Apple Pay, you will need a bank account that supports the platform. You can test this by opening Wallet and attempting to add your card. Once you’ve set it up, you can use Apple Pay anywhere that you see the Apple Pay or contactless payment logos (above).
Still Use 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 of the United States. Fortunately, you can still cut down on wallet bulge and consolidate your important cards with a MagSafe Wallet ($59.99) for iPhone 12 or later. With MagSafe, it magnetically attaches to the back of your iPhone.
Cheaper Third-Party MagSafe Wallet
You don’t have to go for Apple’s version either, with a third-party wallet from MOFT ($34.99) offering the same snap-on functionality. In addition to extra functionality, like a stand for propping up your iPhone, the MOFT wallet costs almost half the price of Apple’s version.
The biggest downside to doing 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, to decouple your wallet from your iPhone, try a slim wallet.)
Not Every iPhone Will Be Supported
The iPhone XS and XR were the first iPhone models to support NFC operations in the background, which don’t rely on input from the user. For example, an iPhone X user cannot tap an NFC trigger and have the iPhone react. This functionality is limited to the XS, XR, and all the models that came later.
Apple says that “device requirements may vary by hotel and workplace” in regards to Wallet’s new ability to store keys, stating that an iPhone XS or later is required to tap and unlock a HomeKit-enabled lock.
Users looking to use their AirTags as NFC triggers have run into the same limitation on older devices. Don’t be surprised to learn that some of these features won’t be available on older devices.