Any WWDC OS announcement is always a matchup contest of what’s coming for America and what’s missing in other regions like Japan. Let’s take a quick look at what’s coming, what’s not and other quirks on the iOS 16 feature page.
Live Text that actually works for Japanese
Japan finally got Live Text and Visual Lookup. While it’s great that Live Text supports Japanese language, it doesn’t support vertical Japanese text which means there are lots of times when it won’t work. Basically Live Text Japanese is pretty useless without robust vertical text support. And yes it’s depressing to think that iOS and macOS in 2022 still cannot do precise multilingual vertical text selection that QuickDraw GX could do back in 1993.
It’s weird that Apple is advertising transit cards and low fare balance warnings as a new Maps feature. I guess it’s new when it’s new for America. Apple Maps has had low fare warnings for Suica since the October 2016 iOS 10.1 update. The add new card part is new either but low fare warnings aren’t working in beta 1. Bottom line: there is no new transit functionality such as granular route selection, sorting etc., thought the UI is improved and more compact. Walking directions have also added elevation information. As Japan is missing from the WWDC22 announced list of countries getting New Maps this year (countries like Saudi Arabia that have yet to see an Apple Maps Image Collection van), Japan will continue to be the Apple Maps challenged country. I’m pretty sure Taiwan will get New Maps long before Japan does, if ever.
Apple Pay and Wallet
Apple Pay Later is only for America at this point, ditto for ID in Wallet, both missing and no surprise. Order tracking in Wallet is listed for Japan and also key sharing, though BMW is currently the only company offering a digital key for Wallet. Wallet compatible Home-Office-Hotel digital keys have yet to be announced though there are many digital keys on the market for Android.
Live Captions, Control Apple Watch with iPhone, Apple News, Weather app minute by minute precipitation are missing. Siri Japanese voice 1, the guy voice, and voice 2 are new and higher quality. Voice 1 sounds more soft and fey to my ear. That’s okay but the previous guy voice was a bit easier to hear outside with ambient noise.
Hen na SIM appears to be a global SIM sticker package for overseas use that is bundled and sold by H.I.S. Mobile along with an iOS “app” that customers download not from the Apple App Store but from the H.I.S. site. H.I.S. sidesteps Japanese regulations with the Overseas use only label and seems to be sidestepping Apple rules as well by misusing enterprise iOS app distribution.
H.I.S. is a Japanese discount travel company with a less than stellar reputation. I used them 10 years ago and knew some people who worked there. The water cooler stories were vicious “black company” yakuza stuff. A normal person didn’t last long in such a deranged corporate culture. I would never consider giving them my business again, or my iPhone.
It will be interesting to see if Apple pulls the H.I.S. developer enterprise account for rule violations.
Inbound travelers have different needs however and traveling offline most of the time isn’t an option if you need GPS, online maps with transit routing or want to find a great place for lunch on the run. The danger of iPhone running out of battery mid transit is a possibility when your attention is distracted while out and about living plug to plug. Run out of juice in the middle of a Apple Pay Suica transit and you will end up paying full fare in cash at the exit transit gate. Some blogs say that you can pay with a backup plastic Suica but the official JR East position is strictly cash only.
If you are doing it all on iPhone while visiting Japan a good battery case/bank is highly recommend. There are other strategies too, they all basically boil down to dividing trip duties between 2 devices.
Apple Watch: if you have Apple Watch Series 3 you can transfer your Suica card from iPhone to Apple Watch with the Watch app. Offloading Suica to Apple Watch allows you to keep Apple Watch in Airplane Mode for Suica transit and use iPhone online for maps and transit without dead battery worries. The only time Apple Pay Suica needs a network connection is when recharging Suica with an Apple Pay credit card.
iPad: if you have a cellular model iPad buy a data travel SIM in Japan and use iPad as your main GPS map and transit tool on the road. If you have a Apple SIM iPad you can also buy a data plan on the go. It might not be the cheapest option but Apple SIM is convenient.
Any Android device will also make a good offload roaming device freeing up iPhone for Apple Pay Suica use while maximizing battery life. And remember if you do run into the 10% battery life warning mid transit, don’t panic. Simply turn the Apple Pay Suica device off, and turn it back on when you reach your destination transit gate.
I think a lot of people, myself included, have been somewhat unhappy with our Macs and iPads. The Mac does not feel like it’s where it needs to be, and that’s why so many people were upset with the 2016 MacBook Pro models. The problem is that Intel has not been where it needs to be, and might not get to where it needs to go. X86 is a truck. It can do mobile, but will never be mobile like the Apple A-series chip.
The iPad was not where it needed to be either but that’s all changed now with the new ‘WWDC’ iPad Pro models, especially the 10.5 inch, iOS 11 and the A10X chip. I have read many 10.5-inch iPad Pro reviews the past few days, to me the best one is The Brooks Review. Ben Brooks’s analysis feels just right, John Gruber’s review roundup is a runner up. Both of them quote Federico Viticci’s review (iPad Pro with Smart Cover/Smart Keyboard fits inside the new leather sleeve, nice catch).
Brooks sums it up nicely:
I suspect that people won’t only be moving to iPad from Macs, but people who have long used only their iPhones (though they likely have a laptop somewhere) will look at these changes and decide there’s now a compelling reason to grab an iPad. To talk about using iPads.