Apple explains how ID cards will work on Apple Watch in watchOS 8

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Virtual ID cards are coming to Apple Watch
You can leave your iPhone in your pocket.
Photo: Apple

Virtual ID cards are coming to Apple Wallet this fall, and you’ll be able to access them on your Apple Watch. In a new interview, two Cupertino executives explain how the feature will work in watchOS 8.

Deidre Caldbeck, director of Apple Watch marketing, said the update is another step toward replacing your physical wallet entirely. Kevin Lynch, Apple’s VP of technology, highlighted its convenience.

Apple’s built-in Wallet app is getting a number of big improvements in iOS 15 and watchOS 8. In addition to supporting virtual ID cards, it will also carry digital tickets and keys for cars, locks, and hotels.

These things will also be available on Apple Watch after they’ve been added on your iPhone, and they’ll work just like credit cards and Apple Pay, Caldbeck and Lynch explained to Yahoo on Monday.

How virtual ID cards will work on Apple Watch

“You can see your ID [on Apple Watch] like your other cards,” Lynch said. “And then you can present that if you choose to, for example, TSA.” Even on Apple Watch, your ID card will display important information.

“Very much like how Apple Pay works, you can digitally present it, and the information can show up for the person who is looking at your ID. And we manage which information is available to which person.”

The feature will have limited support initially, though Apple will be working to expand its reach, and it’s currently unclear how different countries, states, and authorities will handle virtual ID cards.

Nevertheless, Caldbeck sees its potential. “This is kind of our vision for eventually replacing the physical wallet where you just have everything you need … right on your wrist,” she said.

Wallet wants to replace keys as well

It’s not just your wallet Apple wants to eliminate. Support for virtual keys will allow users to unlock their car, door locks, hotel rooms, and more using only their iPhone or Apple Watch.

“It’s a lot of fun to be able to just walk up to your car and have it unlock and then drive,” Lynch said.

Of course, you’ll need a compatible car or lock to take advantage of this feature, while Apple is relying on third-party hoteliers and other organizations to embrace virtual keys on its devices.

iOS 15 and watchOS 8 are scheduled to make their public debut this fall. They will be free updates for all compatible devices. Developers can get their hands on the closed betas today, with public betas expected later.