Apple Pay Suica Marketing 2017

It’s nice to see JR East roll out a new Apple Pay Suica marketing campaign one year after the original, highlighting Apple Pay Suica on iPhone X and Apple Watch 3. This years color pallet is different, a lush classy clean feel and Apple Watch seems to be getting more attention this time.

JR East is also running View Card – Apple Pay Suica ads in trains using the Masashi Ueda penned character, definitely not the naughty Furiten-kun with the catch copy: “only with View Card do you get Suica autocharge.”

That’s true but doing Suica Recharge the plain old way in Wallet can earn you more points. Choices, choices.

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Mt. Minobu and Mt. Shichimen Fall Colors

This year I had work related visits to Mt. Shichimen in the spring and fall. Both times I was blessed with good weather and many fine views. The work is not particularly hard but the only way up is a 3~4 hour steep hike.

Shichimensan is a holy mountain, Shichimen Daimyojin is the deity enshrined there, said to be the human incarnation of the daughter of the Dragon King described in Chapter Twelve of the Lotus Sutra. She transforms herself into a Bodhisattva leads many people to enlightenment vowing to protect all followers of the Buddha.

There is beauty and power you can experience climbing Mt. Shichimen.

egword Universal 2 Open Alpha

egword Universal 2.1 alpha release

Monokakido‘s Hirose san has been busy not only updating apps for iOS 11, he has also been busy updating egword Universal 2 code after sitting on a shelf for 10 years.

In addition to Core Text changes since 2007 there is also emoji support, Retina Display, 64bit and lots more to add. Hirose san is working hard and has an open alpha egword Universal 2.1 for download. New versions are coming every few days.

Give it a test if you have time and send feedback.

Apple Pay Adds Docomo Prepaid d CARD (U)

Docomo d Card PrepaidApple Pay Japan added NTT Docomo’s Prepaid d CARD issued by Sumitomo Mitsu Bank to the lineup today along with the obligatory launch campaign: ¥1,000 for signing up plus another ¥500 for using it. Not bad.

This joins KDDI’s au Wallet as the 2nd prepaid card on Apple Pay Japan. Both d Card and au Wallet prepaid cards are under the Mastercard network and there are unconfirmed reports that au Wallet uses the NFC switching feature of iOS 11 and Mastercard Contactless with iPhone X, iPhone 8 and Apple Watch 3 for domestic and international Apple Pay use.

Sumitomo Mitsubishi Bank support states that d Card Prepaid can only be used by Apple Pay in Japan and Docomo has not yet added iPhone support to their iD/NFC overseas service. Prepaid cards have other limitations and cannot be used at gas stations, for monthly utility payments and the like, but are good for Apple Pay Suica Recharge.

au Wallet uses the QUICPay+ network which clearly lists the stores that accept it. d Card Prepaid uses the Docomo iD network which is less clear: you will not find a iD Prepaid logo at the checkout NFC reader. Sumitomo Mitsui d Card support lists limitations in Japanese.

Update
11-28-2017 : added more limitation details based on reader feedback

iPhone X Mini Review: Are We There Yet?

Reviewers are right that iPhone X is a fork in road. It separates all iPhones up to this point and all that comes hereafter. Reviewers are being forked as well: the older grayer geek squad will continue to write long form reviews, but as Apple already knows the younger YouTube generation are getting their opinions elsewhere. Walt Mossberg knew it was the right time to retire.

Reviewers are also right that iPhone X is alluring, beguiling, delightful and feels new like the very first time you got your hands on iPhone but with insanely faster speed and snap. I have owned every iPhone since 3G but none of them went from teething to essential as fast as X.

Screen
The screen is the fork writ large, buttonless, rounded edge to rounded edge. As Horace Dediu astutely points out in his Critical Path podcast, the square corner screen is dead. From here on screens will be containers filling ever more mutable spaces. I can only agree this is the direction Apple will go. And just like Horace feels, watching a movie in full screen notch mode is not like watching a movie, it’s like holding a movie in your hands.

Size
Going from iPhone 7 Plus to X is weird. Things are bigger and smaller at the same time, my brain sizes the outline as smaller, my thumbs size the keyboard as bigger. The Japanese flick keyboard feels better than ever but the roman keyboard takes some thumb practice because my eye is still used to the wider iPhone 7 Plus black screen border area.

It will take a little more time for my brain and thumbs to completely connect but even now I would not go back to the larger iPhone 7 Plus size. X feels just right.

Shutter Sound
The infamous Japanese iPhone shutter sound is slightly louder to my ears on X than iPhone 7. The robust X speakers are the likely reason. I thought the sound was a bit too loud until I went on a weekend outing with an elderly co-worker who had just purchased a Docomo brand smartphone marketed for “Rojin,”The shutter sound was so soft that she repeatedly pressed the camera button thinking the camera was not working right. To her ears the iPhone X shutter sound was just right.

Suica and Face ID
Face ID-Apple Pay is also two colliding things at once. This is best encapsulated by the ‘what the heck?’ feel of activating Apple Pay via the side button double click. The new gesture is slightly disorienting at first but once you are in Face ID authorization is smoother and faster because it’s continuous. Continuous is the secret sauce that makes it magic.

My main Wallet card is a JCB Bic Camera View but occasionally I need to bring up my Express Transit Suica to deal with an uncooperative old reader that demands authorization. Touch ID was a pain for this kind of two step- bring up main card switch to Suica- operation but Face ID makes it fast and easy. One interesting thing I ran across is that when Face ID locks out and demands a passcode, Suica Express Transit is turned off until Face ID is up and running again.

The Suica NFC reader errors addressed in the JR East notice on November 8, and the timing, suggest it’s a iPhone X issue not an iPhone 8 one. As noted previously some older NFC readers, particularly UT1-Neo readers, have very tiny optimum hit areas due to small/poor antenna designs. I suspect the iPhone X NFC antenna design is different enough from iPhone 7/8 to cause occasional reader errors. To date only the UT1-Neo readers have caused problems for my iPhone X.

Suica Express Transit was already my favorite Apple Pay method with iPhone 7 Plus because it dispenses with Touch ID. Smartphone Journalist Tsutsumu Ishikawa already declared Suica the best card for Apple Pay in iPhone X but I think he and the Japanese users praising it on Twitter are simply rediscovering the convenience of Apple Pay Suica that was there all along. Double clicking the sleep-wake button will become as natural as double clicking the home button, eventually.

There is one legitimate Japanese complaint about Face ID: it doesn’t work when you wear a mask. Lots of Japanese wear masks during the flu and pollen seasons on train commutes and at work, and are mandatory wear for many students. For that reason alone Touch ID iPhones will remain the go to choice for many Japanese, at least until the TrueDepth camera evolves magic X-ray like scanning capability.

That future has yet to arrive but rest of the future is here, for the rest of us.