Apple presented a preview of iOS 15 during an online keynote for Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company’s mid-year software show, earlier this month. Apple CEO Tim Cook said this next major version of the iPhone’s operating system will launch in the fall — likely in September. iOS 15 brings an enormous number of new features and improvements.
Today, Apple Wallet is already incredibly powerful. It can be used to store credit and debit cards, rewards cards for stores, student IDs, airplane boarding passes, concert tickets, and more. It is essentially a digital replacement for a physical wallet, and compared to Google’s rival app — Google Pay — it is far ahead. And Apple continues to beef up its Wallet app with a hefty expansion. Apple Pay has always been its strong feature. Now, the Wallet goes far beyond just paying for goods and services. Apple’s vision of a digital wallet is very close to reality. Who needs keys and a wallet when you have an iPhone, right?
Apple Wallet will act as your digital key for accessing hotel rooms and your car. With this integration, it means one less thing you need to carry along with you. And one less thing you can lose or misplace. Apple is improving on its digital car keys that were first made available through a partnership with BMW last year. People will be able to unlock and start their vehicles remotely without needing to remove the device from their pockets or bags. This feature is using ultra-wideband technology (also known as UWB), a radio technology that uses a very low energy level for short-range communications. It can be used to capture highly accurate spatial and directional data. You can think of UWB as a continuously scanning radar that can precisely lock onto an object, discover its location and communicate with it.
Beyond cars, Apple is also adding the ability to unlock smart locks at homes, offices, and hotel rooms. It will allow hotels to distribute room card keys to Apple Wallet. iPhone and Apple Watch owners will have the ability to simply use Apple Wallet to access smart locks — all conveniently in one place, instead of having to rely on a third-party app. You will be able to access your digital hotel room keys even before arriving at a hotel at more than 1,000 Hyatt properties worldwide starting this fall. HID Global, an American manufacturer of secure identity products and a brand of Assa Abloy, announced during the event that they are working with Apple to create employee badges for Apple Wallet as well.
Now, the most surprising addition. And I would say the biggest, most ambitious feature to come to Apple Wallet since the availability of Apple Pay. The number of digital documents, passes, and cards supported by Apple Wallet is expanding. In participating US states, people will be able to add a fully encrypted copy of their driver’s license or state ID to Apple Wallet. One of the first applications will be for travel. Apple is working with the U.S. Homeland Security Department’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to enable digital ID-checking at airport security checkpoints. Then you would just tap your iPhone at the airport to give the TSA secure access to that information making airport security lines a breeze.
The digital driver’s licenses and personal IDs in Apple Wallet look just like physical documents. They will showcase the individual’s name, photo, date of birth, and their Real ID tag if their physical ID card has one. Security and privacy issues are the biggest roadblocks, and areas of highest concern. Apple says it secures digital IDs with the same technology and encryption backing digital credit cards in Apple Pay.
All of these new features with Apple Wallet in iOS 15 means that your iPhone will be more connected to your daily life than ever before.