Future Android Version May Let You Securely Store Your Digital Driver’s Licenses

Mar 7
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Services such as Samsung Pay and Google Pay have allowed us to step outside the house without our wallets. However, one still needs to carry several forms of identification such as a driver’s license. Some places accept digital versions of the documents, and Google is looking to bake that functionality into Android.

Google is working on adding an “IdentityCredential” framework to Android which would be able to securely store digital IDs, such as your driver’s license. Google’s new framework in Android will be able to display a digital driver’s license in full or just the portions needed for the situation. The service will have to meet the needed ISO standards for securing digital IDs before being rolled out en masse. XDA Developers dug into this a little and found out the following

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if you view the IdentityCredential and IdentityCredentialStore files, you’ll find multiple references to what kinds of “identity credentials” Google is referring to. For instance, IdentityCredential uses a protocol of key exchanges that is “used by the ISO18013-5 standard for mobile driving licenses.” Furthermore, this protocol is used as “the basis for ongoing ISO work on other standardized identity credentials.” While it’s unlikely we’ll see mobile passports anytime soon, it’s clear that this API is intended for more than just mobile driving licenses.

Currently, this is available through some applications, but they have disadvantages. You have a lot of control over who gets to see your physical ID, but the same can’t be said for digital IDs. Even though you can secure your phone with PIN or password, it won’t matter if your device is compromised. Another inherent disadvantage of digitally stored documents is that they’re useless when your phone is out of battery. The last problem will be a particularly challenging one to tackle, and Google may achieve it via a low-power version of Android that’ll run long enough for the documents to be displayed. The feature is still in very early stages, and it may be years before we see it in action. This definitely won’t be arriving in Android Q, so we’re probably thinking Android R, maybe.

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