Could ‘iPhone Passport’ Be a New App? Apple Patent Gives Details

A recent patent filing by Apple suggests your iPhone or Apple Watch could someday act as an e-passport, according to Apple World. With Apple making its devices conduits for health data and financial data, an iPhone Passport app isn’t that far-fetched. But how likely is it?

iPhone Passport

The filing notes that certain governments around the world issue forms of identification that have an electronic component. Such e-passports contain a chip—similar to the one in your credit/debit card—that can hold information like your name and date of birth.

Image of he iPhone passport patent filing.
The iPhone passport patent filing.

When you pass through customs, the agent can place your passport on a reader to compare stored information against their database. But in the future, you could simply hold your wrist to let your Apple Watch transmit the information, like you already do when buying things in a store:

In one embodiment, a computing device includes a short-range radio and a secure element. The computing device reads, via the short-range radio, a portion of credential information stored in a circuit embedded in an identification document issued by an authority to a user for establishing an identity of the user. The computing device issues, to the authority, a request to store the credential information, the request specifying the portion of the credential information.

In response to an approval of the request, the computing device stores the credential information in the secure element, the credential information being usable to establish the identity of the user. In some embodiments, the identification document is a passport that includes a radio-frequency identification (RFID) circuit storing the credential information, and the request specifies a passport number read from the RFID circuit.

A patent granted to Apple doesn’t mean that it will ever see the light of day of course, but it at least shows that it’s on the company’s mind. Last year there was even speculation that Apple Wallet could store a copy of your driver’s license, in addition to credit and debit cards.

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