iOS 15 Wallet region-free transit cards

In addition to Home Keys, Office Key and ID which will come with iOS 15.1 or later, Wallet App has some UI tweaks to help users wrangle their every growing collection of Wallet items. The add to Wallet process has changed. In iOS 14 it went like this:

In iOS 14 step 2 is a functionless UI step to confirm the user really wants to add a card. Step 3 is where the fun beings as the device Region setting (USA, Japan, etc.) determines which transit cards show and are available to add. This Region setting ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ issue has always been confusing for inbound users who want to add a Suica or PASMO to Apple Pay: why do I need to change my Region setting? Does it mess up my other Apple Pay cards? Changing the regions doesn’t have anything to do with using Apple Pay but that is not immediately clear to the user.

There is another add card UI problem as well: I had a Suica card in Wallet and removed it, but now I can’t get it back, is it lost? When you remove a stored value transit card like Suica from Wallet, it is parked safely in the Mobile Suica and Apple Pay Cloud with the card balance intact. It can always be added back to Wallet but this isn’t clear to the user either.

Apple is trying to fix these problems so the iOS 15 Wallet Add to Wallet process goes like this:

Available Cards has 3 categories.

Previous Cards: includes previously used keys, stored value transit cards, credit or debit cards.

Transit Cards: a complete list of all worldwide transit cards that can be directly added in Wallet without a 3rd party app or changing the device region. This might seem great but there is bound to be some confusion: (1) Why can’t I add HOP or Ventra? Because they can only be added with their corresponding app. (2) I tried adding an Hong Kong Octopus or China T-Union card but Wallet wouldn’t let me. Because those transit cards are limited to country issue credit/debit cards for adding money. Octopus has separate app for inbound Apple Pay visitors but the surcharges are not friendly. iOS 15 Wallet Transit cards may be region-free but there will always be some friction when adding some cards.

Debit or Credit Cards: This is basically unchanged from iOS 14 and unfortunately includes the completely useless step 2.

iOS 15 is still in the early beta phase, we’ll likely see ongoing tweaks during the summer up to the final release in September.