E-Driver's Licenses In Iowa, E-Keys, E-Credit Cards... You'll Never Need A Wallet Again

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Gone are the days of out-the-door checklists — keys, wallet, cell phone, makeup case, random assortment of snacks. Aside from the makeup and snacks, just about every essential item can now go on your smartphone, with the latest addition being your driver's license. In an unexpected show of technological prowess, Iowa is launching an app that will replace your official Iowa driver's license. The Iowa Department of Transportation will provide the app to drivers for free and is hoping to release it by 2015. Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino said "It is basically your license on your phone."

During a state agency budget hearing Monday, Trombino told Iowa Governor Terry Branstad that the digital license would be a highly secure "identity vault app." Trombino explained to Governor Branstad that the app would be verified by a pin number, which would really help "allow people to protect their identify." Once launched, the license app will be accepted by the state's law enforcement officers during traffic stops and by TSA agents at Iowa's airports.

The license app wouldn't be the first tech of its kind in Iowa. The state already allows drivers to provide electronic proof of insurance when stopped by officers, and Iowa's DOT has even installed dashboard cameras on snowplows and implemented a program for "paperless construction projects."

Iowa's mobile driver's license would be just one of many physical objects being replaced by a digital version on the smartphone. While digitization of our lives is unquestionably helpful in a number of ways, there are also numerous pitfalls that come from relying solely on your smartphone.

Other Apps Replacing Actual Objects

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Besides your ID, the two most important items to leave the house with are your keys and your money. Well, now you can leave those clunky things at home too. Apple Pay allows you to pay at stores and within apps easily and securely. Using the iPhone 6's Near Field Communication antenna, you can use Apple Pay without even opening an app or waking up your phone. You just simply hold your phone up to the scanner with your finger on the Touch ID. Your phone will vibrate and beep to let you know the transaction was successful.

Physical keys will also soon be a thing of the past. New tech like the August Smart Lock is offering alternative ways to lock up your home. Its advanced encryption technology (the same kind used by financial institutions for online banking) is safer than keys that can be lost and copied. You can even grant certain people access and set a duration of time, perfect for visiting family members, babysitters, or housesitters. Imagine never fumbling for your keys at the bottom of your bag ever again.

Pros

Of course the number-one pro is decluttering your life. The convenience of having all of your essentials on one device is unbeatable. It means carrying around less valuables, and therefore reducing the risk of losing them or having them stolen. Just like with virtually every tech and app out these days, there are always social advantages to technology like digital money and keys — like person-to-person payment systems like Venmo, for instance. So digitizing your life contributes to the overall evolution of communication through technology.

Cons

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However, if it seems too good to be true, it often is. Along with the unprecedented convenience comes a laundry list of potential problems. If your phone gets stolen or damaged, you are basically screwed. While most of the apps and tech will be password or pin number protected, it's always possible for a hacker to gain access. And if your whole life is on your phone, then they'll basically be able to step inside of it. Though chances of a tech-savvy thief getting their hands on your phone are slim, the chances of your phone running out of battery are not. Guess that means you'll have to carry around one more thing after all — your charger.

Images: Getty Images (2), Zemlinki!/Flickr