Suica Apple Pay Without Credit Cards-Updated


The basic Suica transit card is a pre-paid card. There are credit card versions like JR View Card with Suica functionality but the Suica pre-paid function is still there and separate.

Suica Apple Pay is exactly the same, you add money into the SF (Stored Fare) account and every transaction deducts SF until you need to add more. Suica Apple Pay differs only in that you use an Apple Pay credit card to add money to the SF account, but just like a real Suica card you can add money to Suica Apple Pay with real money. How?

JR East has been installing new “Charge” vending machines in major Tokyo area stations. Simply place your Suica Apple Pay ready iPhone 7 or Apple Watch Series 2 device in the blue reader bin, select the amount of money you want to add on the touch screen and feed some bills to start the process, The blue bin flashes red while the machine recharges Suica Apple Pay then turns blue when the transaction is complete. You also get a notification on your device. My shaky video of the process below gives you an idea.

You can also recharge Suica Apple Pay with cash at convenience stores. Macgeek has a video that explains how to add Suica to iPhone 7 without a credit card with a trip to Lawson.

Update 5/29
Suica/PASMO smartphone compatible charging kiosks are rapidly increasing in number in all Tokyo area transit stations, JR, Metro, Seibu, Keio, etc. Charging Suica Apple Pay with cash at any Suica/PASMO charging kiosk and any convenience store is getting easier all the time.

Japanese Train Wrapping

Japanese train enthusiasts are crazy. I like that! Nowhere else will you find so much maniacally enthusiastically gathered and curated train information.

I follow the daily rundown of Suica Apple Pay train wrappers in vain hope that Docomo iD Apple Pay will run its own train wrapping. Twitter user yatelovelive501 is a great resource for checking what and when wrapped trains are running each day.

It’s great fun and eases the daily commuter train grind.

Find My AirPods

I love macgeek san’s videos. He has a great way of explaining things by actually showing you no matter how far he has to travel.

On iOS 10.3 day he walks us through the update via iTunes 12.6 (I didn’t know 12.6 was required for an this update). Then he puts his AirPods in a coin locker (dig the Suica Apple Pay Apple Watch transaction) and drives off to Yokohama Landmark Tower to test Find My AirPods. It works.

Macgeek san makes a good point that the Find My AirPods ‘play sound’ feature only works when AirPods are out of the case and you are close enough to hear the sound. Limited but useful. Nice work.

He also posted Find My AirPods part 2 that covers what happens if you lose an AirPod when connected to Apple Watch.

What Killed Adobe

John Gruber wrote an interesting post about Fed Ex and Flash a few days ago. In it he mentioned Steve Jobs’s famous “Thoughts on Flash”. Today Gruber responded to blog post from “Virgil”

To be clear, I don’t think Jobs’s letter killed Flash. But I don’t think Adobe did either. Eventually Adobe accepted Flash’s demise. What killed Flash was Apple’s decision not to support it on iOS, combined with iOS’s immense popularity and the lucrative demographics of iOS users. If Jobs had never published “Thoughts on Flash”, Flash would still be dead. The letter explained the decision, but the decision that mattered was never to support it on iOS in the first place.

I’d go further and say that Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia killed the old Adobe long before Flash itself was killed.

The Macromedia purchase was very controversial within Adobe at the time and talented people left. The decision to manhandle Flash into every Adobe product seriously eroded quality and squandered enormous resources that could have been used to create new open standards and great new products.

Adobe is a different company today because of Flash, and lesser for it.

Enlightenment & Apple’s Advanced Typography

yjimageAccording to Buddhist teachings, one aspect of enlightenment is freedom from dependent origination (causality). With this in mind let’s examine the journey of Apple’s advanced typography technology.

What Good Luck 1991: Apple expounds the one great vehicle QuickDraw GX to the world. Wise men in Asia comprehend the complete and profound teaching of advanced typography where all writing systems and layout directions are equal, but many westerners lack the capacity to comprehend this excellent true meaning. They become disheartened and give up seeking enlightenment. Adobe Arhats are insulted, stomp their feet and leave.

What Bad Luck 1997: Apple forsakes QuickDraw GX, the great teaching is discarded.

What Good Luck 1998: Apple expounds the lesser, easier to understand teaching of ATSUI.

What Bad Luck 1998: ATSUI is Carbon

What Good Luck 2000: The enlightened teacher Steve Jobs announces Apple Publishing Glyph Set (APGS) based on QuickDraw GX AAT at Tokyo MacWorld. Adobe Arhats are insulted, stomp their feet and leave.

What Bad Luck 2000~2006: Adobe Arhats expound many expensive Japanese font upgrades based on the Steve Job’s APGS teachings. They create Adobe Japan 1-5 and Adobe Japan 1-6 glyph sets before Japanese customers recant and spend their money elsewhere. A proposed Adobe Japan 1-7 is abandoned and dumped in a cave.

What Good Luck 2007: Apple announces the 64 bit newer-lesser teaching Core Text.

What Bad Luck 2007: Nobody uses it.

What Good Luck 2010: Apple announces Core Text for iOS 3,2/iPad and adds vertical text support to AppKit

What Bad Luck 2010: Almost nobody uses them.

What Good Luck. WWDC 2013: The easier to use TextKit layout teaching is expounded in iOS 7

What Bad Luck. WWDC 2013: Asian wise men still have to use Core Text for vertical text layout in iOS.

What Good Luck 2016: Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google announce the newer-lesser teaching of OpenType Variation Fonts based on older-greater teachings TrueType GX and Open Font Architecture.

What Bad Luck 2016: Wise men in Asia shake their heads remembering a greater fuller teaching but shut up and accept Adobe marketing development money. Many westerners lack the capacity to comprehend the benefits of this new teaching. They become disheartened and give up seeking development.

What Bad Luck 2017: The newly released Pages 6.1 still does not support vertical text layout. Advanced typography enlightenment seekers still have to use Microsoft Word.

What Good Luck 2017 WWDC: Advanced typography enlightenment seekers are highly skeptical and fewer than ever but await OpenType Variation Font and text framework revelations from Apple.

Buddhists have a saying: never give up on your life or your enlightenment.

PS This is not about Buddhist style enlightenment, just an irreverent look at Apple’s advanced typography journey written in the style of Senchu Murano’s classic translation of The Lotus Sutra 😃 Have a good WWDC at San Jose or wherever you may be.

The Battle of Roshi Hall: Improving Apple Maps Japanese Data

Rereading my previous post something bothered me: the newer parts of Apple Maps like Japanese public transit, are clearly the result of hard work and are well done. It is older parts from 2012 that are buggy and full of incorrect information five years on.

I assumed that all the problems pointed out in Japanese blogger Train’s post, “Mistakes are Alive and Well in Apple Maps in 2017” were the fault of bad map data from Apple Maps Japanese primary map data (PMD) supplier IPC, but that assumption was too simplistic and incorrect. Something else is going on.

Searching for Something Else
I have written about the odd, long, verbose place names and amateurish place name categories in Apple Maps Japan many times (here and here). Blogger Train lists similar problems with arcane, old-fashioned, incorrectly named places and missing data. A quick comparison of his problems reveals that IPC has correct and up to date map data… but Apple isn’t using it.

In a similar vein, I have submitted countless place name corrections via the Apple Maps problem reporting system about a particular building near my office: Roshi Hall (Roshi Kaikan). Roshi Hall is a local community facility that houses classrooms, school clubs, and a small gym for children’s gymnastics, taiko drumming and so on.

Apple Maps ignores all corrections and insists on using an incorrect name. It displays the building as “Ikegami Sports Club” which is just one of many school clubs that use Roshi Hall. IPC lists the correct place name (as do Google and Yahoo Japan Maps). A wider inspection shows that IPC place names are correct and concise in a way they never are Apple Maps.

Who Supplies the Japanese Place Names?
Clearly Apple is not using the place names offered by IPC but are using a different data source. Who? The answer is complicated.

I suspect that Apple has a primary place name data (PND) supplier that it supplements with 2nd tier information from Tabelog (restaurants, cafes) TripAdvisor (Hotels), Bookings (Hotels) and Yelp Japan (hit and miss places of interest). The PND is not IPC but I have not discovered who is.

Looking at the evolution of Apple Maps Japan product, PND and PMD are the biggest problems Apple needs to fix if they want a good service that Japanese customers want to use.

Some Fixes
Let’s keep it simple and assume that the Apple Maps team has three choices:

  1. A Japanese product that is better than the competition
  2. A Japanese product that is as good as the competition.
  3. A Japanese product that is worse than the competition.

Choice #3: keeping the status quo is the easiest and cheapest choice, cheap in the short-term but more expensive later on. No major investment to improve quality risks losing Japanese customers in the long run.

Choice #2 is not necessarily more expensive but requires a significant investment in effort and system expertise: realize that IPC will never get Japan maps where it needs to go, drop IPC and the current PND supplier and cut a deal with Zenrin. Zenrin is the premier Japanese digital map data supplier used by Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and all the top digital map services.

The Zenrin choice offers Apple an opportunity to achieve Google Maps and Yahoo Japan Maps quality with their current system without reinventing the wheel. The Apple Maps Transit team already achieved this kind of success by using Jorudan, the same Japanese transit data supplier that Google uses.

Choice #1 is the most difficult and long-term choice, it also assumes successful completion of choice #2. A few ideas come to mind: a super smart and super connected Siri, untapped Japanese suppliers such as Recruit’s Jalan, detailed and nationwide Michi-no-eki (roadside rest area) with store-in-store information featuring popular local delicious omiyage, on-route live updates for transit, improved and detailed indoor mapping.

There are many smart and hard-working people at Apple with great ideas. It will be fun watching the choices that the Apple Maps team makes in 2017.