Digital IDs come to iPhone-owning Californians, but not in the way they should

California DMV app on phones
(Image credit: California DMV)

Californians who own iPhones can now get their hands on a digital driver's license for the first time, but the move still falls short of what it could have been.

California had already announced that it was testing digital IDs and now the state has confirmed that it is starting to roll them out to the public via the CA CMV Wallet app, available via the App Store. But anyone hoping to put their ID into the Wallet app on their iPhone is going to unfortunately be left disappointed.

That's because, in its current state, the California system does not support the Wallet app, making the DMV's own app the only option for those who want to be able to ditch their physical card.

A missed opportunity

The new ID support was spotted by 9to5Mac, and Californians can now sign up for their mobile driver's license (mDL) via the DMV website.

"The mDL offers a quick and secure identity-check at airports, without handing over your phone," the website reads. "Speed through TSA PreCheck® at SFO and LAX. Control the information you share when purchasing adult beverages. Be among the first to carry your driver’s license on your phone by joining this voluntary pilot.

That pilot is still limited, however. The first 1.5 million people to sign up will be able to take the new digital ID for a spin, so be sure to get in on the act soon if you want to be involved. It isn't clear how long it will be before that number is increased.

The fact that this is still a pilot program does at least give us hope that Wallet support will come in the future. Apple's home state not supporting the Wallet app has to sting, and we have to imagine that the company will want to change that sooner rather than later.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.