Google Working Digital Driver's License Support For Android Auto

Are physical wallets a necessity? Mobile payment apps like Apple Pay and Venmo have overall made it easier to forgo carrying around cash and credit cards. However, very few apps have been able to entirely replace physical identification cards like driver’s licenses or passports. Google is currently working on an API that would allow users to store digital ID’s on Android devices.

According to a report by XDA Developers, Google is preparing their “IdentityCredential API”. This statement naturally elicits a bit of concern. Will hackers be able to easily access our personal information? What happens if our device is low on battery? Google’s IdentityCredential API will hopefully resolve these issues.

gemalto digital drivers license
Image from 

Google will rely on hardware similar to the Titan M chip in the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The Titan M was reportedly built with "insider attack resistance." It verifies lock screen pass codes, withstands forceful attacks, protects third-party apps, and will only update the device if a user has entered their pass code. Google is also trying to find a way for users to access their digital driver’s license, even if their device runs out of battery. It is currently unclear how they plan to accomplish this.

Google is not the first company or institution to flirt with digital driver’s licenses. Louisiana residents can download the law enforcement-approved “LA Wallet” app. Law enforcement and state officials recognize these digital licenses as valid forms of identification and Louisiana are able to use the app to purchase alcohol and tobacco. A similar app is also available in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Residents can store their driver’s license and other identification materials in this app. Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Wyoming are currently testing similar pilot programs with the security company Gemalto.

titan m pixel
Titan M

Google’s digital driver’s license program will likely pair well with Google Pay. Google Pay allows users to purchase items through Chrome, Android apps, and at supported physical retailers and restaurants. Users are also able to pay for subscriptions like YouTube Premium and send money to other users. The app is reportedly more secure than predecessors like Android Pay and Google Wallet.

It is unlikely that this new feature will be available with Android Q. Instead, it will likely be released with Android R in 2020. Digital driver’s licenses would certainly be convenient, but let’s hope that Google is able to smooth any rough patches before releasing the feature.