Other people are wondering if the new iPhone models and Apple Watch Series 4 will have Global FeliCa. They certainly will, hopefully free of the NFC hardware issues that plagued iPhone X production. The more important question for the Japanese market however is not the top-tier models but the iPhone 7 replacement aka iPhone SE 2 as tweeted by Guilherme Rambo.
SE 2 should be Global FeliCa as well and will make a great entry level Apple Pay Suica device, not only for Japanese students on a budget but older Japanese who don’t need or want the latest bells and whistles. An entry level Global FeliCa iPhone has been missing from the JP lineup and will certainly help Apple hold onto Japanese market share. It will certainly help too if Apple throws in a few NFC Wallet goodies and Apple Pay Transit additions such as Apple Pay PASMO at the event. We shall see.
Long term I think Apple Watch will be next revolution thing for transit but only when transit cards and credit cards can be added directly to Apple Watch without an iPhone. When that happens, and it will, watch out.
Apple clearly wants to promote NFC Passes in Wallet over clunky QR Codes and showed NFC Passes on Apple Watch in action with a Wembley Stadium NFC ticket gate in the WWDC18 Apple Pay session video. In the same session Apple software engineers explained how to strip out QR Codes in Wallet Passes and easily replace them with NFC.
It’s also clear that Apple wants to promote NFC Passes on Apple Watch over iPhone, the new Wallet feature will be shown off in the Apple Watch segment of the upcoming event.
Japanese IT journalist Junya Suzuki is saying there could be more NFC goodies and partners on tap for the September 12 event and the iOS 12 GM. Back at WWDC18 I wrote:
NFC Certificates should be the ticket for developers to gain NFC access that was not possible up to now… It will be fascinating to see what developers do with wider NFC Certificate distribution and what NFC passes/reward cards, and hopefully much more, that come out of it with iOS 12 and watchOS 5.
It would be in line with expectations if Apple announced some extra NFC Wallet goodies, such as NFC reward cards in addition to NFC Passes and Student IDs, during the keynote. It would be beyond expectations, but not far fetched, if Apple also announced Apple Pay Transit for MIFARE based Taiwan transit cards, FeliCa based Octopus Hong Kong transit cards or perhaps something else…like Apple Pay PASMO. We won’t know until the event as Apple has certainly cut code references out of the iOS 12 beta mix to keep the 9to5 Mac code spelunker elves at bay.
Update to Suica v2.2 before August 28. There are no new features but this is a security update.
The notice says to update to Suica App v2.2 before August 28. Older versions of Suica App will not be able to log in after that date.
This is an update of my previous post, copied below for reference. JR East is really going out of its way to make sure that everybody…EVERYBODY… updates to Suica App v2.2 to the point of sending out emails to people who have asked not to receive emails from JR East, pictured at bottom. They have never done this before. It sounds like some heavy-duty Mobile Suica cloud infrastructure reconfiguration will be taking place.
The only new information is that all previous versions of Suica App will not even boot or connect to Mobile Suica from September 5. JR East has already announced major unscheduled Mobile Suica maintenance downtime on that date 1am~4am JST with any remaining maintenance to be carried out September 12.
What’s the rush and the heavy breathing for? Wait a minute…do I smell a September 12 new iPhone announcement connection here? It’s sure fun to think so.
A security update for Suica App v2.2 has been released with a notice from JR East to update to the new version before August 28. From this date older versions of Suica App will no longer be able to log on and access the Mobile Suica network for Shinkansen e-ticket purchases, commuter plan purchases and other Suica app features.
The update is a security update with no new features. The JR East notice does not specify any details other than: “please update for better security”
My American stay is drawing to a close. It has been good but I look forward to getting back to work and home in Japan, and finally getting my hands on a Rev-B iPhone X. All summer long I’ve had this fantasy blog post in my head that goes something like:
Apple has finally, yes really finally, issued a service program for iPhone X Suica users who have the iPhone X Suica Problem. Please see Apple Support details if you are affected.
I have no illusions that I’ll ever write that post, or that any of my posts will have any impact on resolution of the iPhone X Suica NFC issue, but I keep writing about it anyway. Why? Here is a recent story. I ran across a Japanese high school student on Twitter who had the iPhone X Suica problem. He hit dead-end after dead-end but finally managed to get an exchange for a Rev-B iPhone X at a local carrier store. I gave him the information I had gathered and he finally understood the problem he had been facing alone and excitedly asked if he could share it with his friends, which he did.
Nothing is worse than facing a problem alone in a vacuum. That’s the kind of person I hope to help by writing about it. I wish Apple would try to help them too. Unfortunately I think all we will get is the typical Apple modus operandi: ‘deny, deny, deny some more, charge for repairs, deny more, sell off all the faulty SKUs, admit it was actually a problem and refund the minority who persist in chasing us.’
Part of what makes the iPhone X NFC problem so frustrating is the difficulty of quantifying anything NFC. I was reminded of this when shopping for my Dad at Harmon’s grocery the other day. They have Apple Pay but this time the cashier told me, “You’re holding it wrong. The antenna is on the right side, hold it there.” I sighed to myself and held my iPhone X to the right side of the Verifone reader. It worked but doubt it made any difference: there’s nothing on the reader that indicates where the NFC hit area is, or even if there is one, and of course no audio-visual NFC user feedback at all. Another vacuum.
A NFC engineer source explained the difficulties of NFC testing: “Again, though, the real test with NFC is whether the card-emulating device works with a particular reader, and there are too many variables there to replicate with an amateur test setup – that’s why things such as (FeliCa Certification) exist.”
The vacuum is all there is to work with, but I’m a half glass full person even when it’s nothing. There’s always hope nothing will be replaced with something. I’ll keep writing.
This user says his Revision B iPhone X exchange unit NFC performance is zippy and clearly different than his Day 1 iPhone X
This user says “I used to have Suica problems with my iPhone X but after getting an exchange it’s completely gone. Suica performance is as fast as it was with my iPhone 7. Why is the performance so different on different iPhone X devices?”