The France Identité application will soon make its first steps on iOS. Before the beta is launched in the next few day, which will be accessible to 2,500 testers within the next few days, we were able test an alpha version reserved to a smaller audience.
France Identité is the new government application that will serve as a digital duplicate of the biometric identity card. This application can be used to withdraw parcels or prove your age. The app’s beta phase will allow you to create single-use credentials and authenticate online.
We needed two things to try the alpha version. An iPhone running iOS 16 was required, as well as an electronic national ID card (CNIe) in credit card format. iGeneration has no problem with iPhones running iOS 16, but it was difficult to find a biometric card. Only one person in our team has the CNIe. These prerequisites will also apply to the beta and the final version of France Identité.
A series of checks at startup
The configuration is complete with the iPhone 13 mini under iOS 16 equipped with a CNIe. After the home screen displays the essential information, we authorize the camera access to allow him to scan his card using it. If the camera is not available, you can use it without it. To manually enter a six-digit code on the ID card’s bottom right, you will need to type in a six-digit number.
Second, import the data from the ID cards in the application. This is done by reading the NFC chip on the card. This is the key to iOS 16 (which includes a more secure NFC communication protocol and the CNIe). To read the NFC chips, you need to place your iPhone’s top on the card. This is similar to making an Apple Pay payment.
Next, you will be asked to enter your email address. Once you have done this, the confirmation that the card was imported is displayed on the main screen. This copy of your card does not have the same value as a regular plastic card. You will need to wait until an authentication system is set up so that you can brandish it at the Post Office, in a discotheque or elsewhere.
Although the card now appears in the application, there are still a few steps to go before you can actually use France Identité. First, confirm your email address by clicking a link in the email that you received. It had landed in spam in our instance. You will then need to create a six digit personal code which will be used to give your consent to the processing of your data.
To avoid being taken advantage of, you will need to verify your identity before you can create this code. You can verify your identity either by sending a registered mail or using FranceConnect which is easier. The CNIe is then scanned with the camera to identify yourself on a FranceConnect account (impots.gouv.fr or La Poste …).).
After identity verification, the six-digit code can be defined. Once the code is created, you are finally ready to use the features of France Identité.
Although there are many checks that need to be made during configuration, you will be guided through each step. The explanations are clear, and are accompanied by animations or illustrations that aid understanding.
Creation of credentials
One feature was included in the alpha version that we tested: the creation of single-use credentials. Instead of sending a photocopy your ID card to third parties, which could end up in the wild, or even be used for impersonation, you send a credential that only contains the essential information.
This receipt can be created in the following manner: You fill in the recipient (realty agency, employer ), the validity period and reason for use.
The credential will be created by you entering your personal code, and then scanning your ID card. The application is not completely independent of the physical card, but it is important to have the latter in order to validate the operation.
However, this will change. The combination of card reading with personal code will eventually be optional for sensitive operations that require the highest level of eIDAS standards. Face ID/Touch ID will be used for less sensitive operations.
Once the receipt has been created, it can either be saved to the iPhone or shared with the classic iOS options. Soon, a service will be available that allows the recipient to verify the authenticity of the document by signing it. This proof, while it may be a good idea today, has a major flaw: it has no legal value and can be refused without further action. The team in charge of France Identité is working on this issue as soon as possible.
A beta version (not the first one, but the second one normally) of France Identité will also include a function allowing to connect to a site via FranceConnect, the interest being that you won’t have to enter your ID for this operation.
The SwiftUI framework was used to create the app. It’s simple in the sense that there’s not much to it (but the system integration is deep due the use of NFC). It’s also easy to use.
The alpha version has bugs and perfectible elements. There are errors in the code creation message, graphical irregularities …),, and errors when reading NFC. But that’s normal for an alpha. The beta version will fix some of these flaws, and it will also be perfectible by nature.
Don’t expect the France Identité beta to be a way to get rid of your plastic ID card, the scope of the application will be limited for a while. The project team expects the beta phase to help refine its base and provide feedback from users to help them with their legal issues.
To find out what requirements guided the overall operation of France Identité and why the ID card will not integrate with the iOS Cards app, we refer you to our interview with two program managers:
France Identity, an application that will allow you to use a card in your everyday life