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Someday a driver's license could be stored in Android (Update: SD 865 support)

Update: We now know that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 supports this future feature.

Published onDecember 4, 2019

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Update, December 4, 2019 (04:10 PM ET): In the original article below, we told you about how future versions of Android should be able to securely store a digital version of your driver’s license. Today, at the Qualcomm Summit, the company revealed that the upcoming Snapdragon 865 chipset will support this future feature.

While this isn’t an outright confirmation that you’ll be able to securely store a digital driver’s license in Android 11, it definitely suggests that’s a possibility.

You can read more about what’s possible with the Snapdragon 865 in our roundup here.

Original article, March 8, 2019 (01:15 PM ET): With digital driver’s licenses seeing wider adoption in the U.S. and other countries, the question becomes how secure can companies tighten down such sensitive information? That’s where Google and its IdentityCredential API come in, according to a commit submitted by senior software engineer Shawn Wilden.

Digging into the commit, XDA-Developers noted that the new IdentityCredential framework could securely store your driver’s license and reveal it either in full or in specific portions. For example, IdentityCredential would only display your name and verified birthdate if you’re buying alcohol or tobacco.

The framework could even display your driver’s license if your phone doesn’t have enough juice to start up. That feature would require specialized low-power hardware, a secure chip, and a new version of Android to work.

Google in 2019: All in on AI

As far as security goes, Google is also taking steps to prevent unauthorized access to your driver’s license. If the phone features specialized security hardware, IdentityCredential would create dynamic authentication codes that make it harder to crack the software. Otherwise, the phone could use remotely-stored authentication keys to show that the information stored on the phone is legitimate.

Interestingly, it sounds as if you’ll be able to store “other standardized identity credentials.” The commit reveals that the support for other forms of identification is still in the works, though you might eventually be able to store passports and more.

Because the commit is brand new, we likely won’t see the IdentityCredential framework in Android until at least Android R. The good news is that you won’t have to rely on a proprietary app to hold your digital driver’s license — the Google Pay app could take care of that.

NEXT: Google now lets users watch in-app videos in exchange for virtual goodies

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