Ka-ching: Those Japanese NFC Feedback Sounds

Carefully crafted audio feedback is a helpful and important part of any user experience. The lovely Apple Pay ‘ka-ching’ sound is an excellent example. Japanese FeliCa networks incorporate sound feedback as a basic part of their customer experience. This is important because visual feedback from the NFC payment terminal is minimal at best and often missing altogether.

JR East Suica: the classic Suica beep is simple but effective. Simple is hard to do well and the petite, svelte Suica beep carries amazing well in extremely noisy, echoey stations without being annoying or blaring. For some reason it blends well with the Apple Pay sound. The full symphony of Suica feedback sounds are detailed here.

Suica at the cash register is the 2 beep sound which means the transaction has been deducted from the Suica stored fare (SF) as heard in this Suica TV ad, yet another happy catchy singing jingle ad that Japanese seem to prefer.

The other FeliCa payment networks each have their own transaction sound as heard in the following clip. In order: iD, nanaco, QUICPay, Edy and WAON.

The NFC-Pay sound is flat and blah:

Suica, iD and QUICPay sounds are easy to hear in a noisy environment like a cafe register area. Edy, nanaco, WAON and NFC-Pay are easily lost in the shuffle. Japanese payment networks have the right idea: make those ‘all done’ feedback sounds distinctive, and fun.

In America I have yet to hear any NFC payment terminal sound feedback at all. At a noisy Starbucks it’s hard to even hear the Apple Pay sound. Payment networks and equipment vendors like Verifone should pay attention and put more effort into creating a better user experience with distinctive, carefully crafted feedback sounds.

And for goodness sake, make it fun.


How to Use Suica with Apple Pay when Traveling to Japan

How to use Suica with Apple Pay

I love reading inbound Apple Pay Suica user experiences, there are always new insights and observations to learn about. Mason Simon has posted a helpful Apple Pay Suica guide, far simpler and easier than my overgrown one.

His problem with a USA iTunes Store account/Apple Music subscription gumming up his attempt to add plastic Suica sounds like an edge case, and one that I have never heard of before, but the Apple ID/iCloud/credit card account region setting thing has given me problems with iMessage.

Mason says,

You can also designate one of your virtual Suica’s to be your “express” card. You must do this…Not “must” like it’s necessary. “Must”, like, you have no idea how amazing this is.

It is amazing. Once you get used to Apple Pay Suica it spoils you forever. Using Apple Pay outside of Japan just isn’t as fast or fun.

No iPhone X Suica Fix in iOS 11.4 Update

iOS 11.4 Update

The iOS 11.4 Update has been released and does not mention any new Apple Pay Transit Cards. Of course iOS 11.4 does not fix the long running iPhone X Suica problem.

The iOS 11.4  developer preview included China Express Transit card support for Jiangsu, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Chongqing transit cards in addition to the Beijing and Shanghai cards rolled out with iOS 11.3.

Apple testing of a iOS 11.4.1 update is already underway, there is still hope that the iPhone X Suica problem will finally be fixed along with new Apple Pay Transit Cards for China before iOS 12 arrives later this year. I do not think iOS 11.4.1 or any iOS update will fix the iPhone X Suica problem. My view is the problem is caused by a iPhone X NFC hardware flaw that cannot be fixed by software.

iPhone X has a NFC hardware problem, for more information see:
iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide (English Version)
iPhone X Suica問題Q&A交換ガイド(日本語版)

New Apple Pay Transit Focus for WWDC18

muddled wwdc

A reader made a very sharp observation regarding new NFC functionality rumored for iOS 12, the Apple Pay Transit support that appeared in China with iOS 11.3 really is a new thing and we could see more coming with the iOS 11.4 update due any day now at some point.

Apple Pay Suica Express Transit is FeliCa and was first, but the newer public beta Apple Pay Transit for Beijing and Shanghai is PBOC 2.0 ED/EP technology, sort of like EMV offline. There are also lots MIFARE transit cards out there: Oyster, Compass, Opal, Myki in addition to the FeliCa based Hong Kong Smart Octopus.

WWDC18 will likely have the new native transit card focused ‘Apple Pay Transit’ as part of expanded NFC functionality for iOS 12. Hopefully the new iOS 12 NFC functions will make it much easier to support native transit smartcards in Apple Pay Transit and let transit agencies and developers add new features on mobile platforms.

UPDATE 1: the iOS 11.4 Update did not add Apple Pay Transit cards for China

UPDATE 2: More WWDC18 and Core NFC Rumors here

Victoria to trial replacing Myki card with Android devices

ZDNet reports that Victoria is going to test native MIFARE based Mobile Myki on Android devices before rolling out the service in 2019. It sounds like a good plan, staying with an established closed ticketing smartcard system on mobile is the smart way to go.

Unfortunately Sydney is not making the smart choice, they are looking to dump their MIFARE based Opal smartcard system built by Cubic and replace it with ‘open’ EMV contactless:

While Melbourne is headed down a path that replaces physical cards with smartphone apps, Sydney is examining the prospect of dropping transit cards in favour of credit card usage.

In July, Transport for NSW began a trial on the Manly Ferry of using MasterCard instead of the Opal card for ticketing, allowing for mobile devices or wearables equipped with NFC payments connected to a MasterCard account to be used.

Good luck with that.