Arizona Launches Digital IDs for Apple Devices

Arizona on Wednesday became the first state to offer digital versions of driver’s licenses and identification cards that can be stored in Apple’s Wallet app. That means that residents who own iPhones or Apple Watches can add their IDs to those devices.

The announcement came a bit more than six months after Apple announced it was working with a handful of states to develop digital IDs that can be stored alongside airline tickets, credit cards, movie tickets and other passes.

But the list locations of where Arizonans can use their new digital identifications is short: So far, they will only be accepted by Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, according to the state’s Motor Vehicle Division. State authorities said that even if they’ve added their IDs to their mobile devices, residents should still carry their physical cards for other instances that require identity checks, like liquor stores and encounters with law enforcement.

According to an Apple press release, Arizona residents can add their licenses to their phones by scanning the front and back of their physical IDs and uploading a selfie. The Wallet app will also ask users to perform a series of head and facial movements as “an additional fraud prevention step.”

When Apple first announced that it was working with Arizona — and seven other states — to incorporate government-issued IDs into its Wallet app, some in the security industry noted that even if Apple’s encryption technology was up to snuff, digital IDs can still pose risks if an individual’s account is breached.

Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation, told StateScoop the digital ID program “is secure” and noted that Apple’s device-management tools allow users to remotely erase the contents — including contents of the Wallet app — of a lost device.

About 52% of smartphone users nationwide use iPhones. Lamoreaux said he did not know if there was a project to develop a digital ID compliant with Google Pay, the wallet app used by many Android devices.

Apple on Wednesday also extended the list of states and territories where it’s working with officials to develop digital identifications. Along with the seven other states announced last September — Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah — the company now plans to add Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, Ohio and Puerto Rico.

Several of these states, including Arizona and Colorado, had already developed digital driver’s licenses using other vendors, like Idemia. Those programs are expected to continue, now alongside the Apple option.