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Google is beta testing digital state ID cards in its Android Wallet app

Google is beta testing digital state ID cards in its Android Wallet app


Android users with Maryland state IDs can now add it to their Wallet app — if they’re in the beta test group and their phone supports it.

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an image of an Android phone with a Maryland ID card image with a blue crab and flag in the back and a waves icon above it indicating to tap the phone to a terminal.
Maryland ID in Google Wallet can be tapped at participating airports.
Image: Google

Maryland was one of the first states to make state IDs available on Apple’s Wallet app for iPhones, and now Google is beta testing support for the “Digital Driver’s License” in the Wallet app on Android phones. The Apple Wallet integration can already be used to get through TSA at airports like the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport that allow the use of digital state IDs, which should be similar on Android.

According to Google’s updated support page: users running Android 8.0 (or later) who are in the Google Play Services beta program (specifically, version 48.22) are eligible. After enabling Bluetooth and Nearby Devices, and also making sure your phone has a screen lock, you should now see a new option for “ID Card (beta)” when adding a new card to the Google Wallet app.

The feature was announced during Google’s developer-oriented I/O keynote in May, where it showed a slide with Maryland as the first ID available for the upcoming feature.

The new ID card beta feature in the Google Wallet app.
The new ID card beta feature in the Google Wallet app.
Screenshots: Richard Lawler / The Verge

Android support for a digital state ID is part of this month’s Google System updates, which also includes other Play Services beta features for Wallet like Digital Car Key (for Xiaomi devices) and the ability to manage payment cards on Fitbit devices.

According to a Verge tipster, the process to add a Maryland ID goes as follows: scan the front of the ID > scan the back > take a short recording of your face > submit your application > and finally, wait for Maryland to accept the card. The process is very similar to that of adding a card to Apple Wallet.

As of writing, the Play Services beta program is full, so you might have to wait a while to try out the feature. Google recommitted to its Wallet app initiative after a period where it was deprecated in favor of a focused “Google Pay” offering. Now, Wallet contains Google Pay, transit cards, loyalty rewards, gift cards, and ID cards, making it a much more complete app.

We’ve confirmed that the feature works on newer Google Pixels, but it also works on devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S20 — though requirements to support the feature may vary. It’s confusing to figure out, but Senior Technical Editor for Esper (and former Editor-In-Chief for XDA Developers) Mishaal Rahman reached out to us to explain:

Under the hood, Google Wallet uses an API available in Android called Identity Credential to handle ISO 18013-5 compliant mobile driver’s licenses. This API was introduced in Android 11. In the same release, Google also introduced, basically, an enhanced version of the API that utilizes the device’s secure hardware to more securely store mobile driver’s licenses. This is what’s referred to as the Identity Credential HAL, and this is what very few devices support (and what Google wanted to expand support for by introducing new requirements in Android 13 that I mentioned in my article).

However, hardware support for Identity Credential is *not* required to support digital driver’s licenses. For older devices and devices without hardware support, Google offers a backward compatible version of the Identity Credential API. This is compatible with Android 8.0 and later and utilizes another API called the Android Keystore to store mobile driver’s licenses on the device. Keystore uses the device’s Trusted Execution Environment, which Android devices have been required to support for some time now.

Correction December 15th 2022 7:41PM ET: A previous version of this article stated that Digital IDs require Android 13. It’s possible to have Digital IDs on Android 8.0 and later, and we added an expert’s technical explanation on how it works. We regret the error.

Update December 19th 2022 11:50AM ET: Replaced the Maryland ID image with an up-to-date design.