iOS 11.2.5 Release Due This Week

With iOS 11.2.5 reaching the end of the beta cycle, the official release should come this week as predicted. Beta testing has been a very smooth experience with improved Apple Pay Suica performance on iPhone X that eliminates transit gate error flicker and Suica mis-reads at store readers, and also fixes the Suica Notification bug introduced in iOS 11.2.

If you have experienced either problem I recommend updating to iOS 11.2.5 with the official release.

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iOS 11 Apple Pay NFC Switching in Action

fullsizeoutput_882cThe Apple Pay NFC switching feature in iOS 11 along with global NFC A-B-F support in every iPhone X and iPhone 8 gives Japanese Apple Pay users the unique ability to use the same Apple Pay credit card with FeliCa contactless payment networks in Japan and EMV contactless payment networks abroad.

There is just one catch. Credit card issuers have to support it. American Express announced NFC switching support for Apple Pay Japan customers shortly after the Apple Event last September, the same time that J/Speedy and Mastercard Contactless Apple Pay Japan support was announced. KDDI au and Mastercard said they were also working on NFC switching support but nothing has appeared so far.

Twitter user Riikun shared his American Express Apple Pay Japan purchase experience in Hawaii. The FeliCa QUICPay mark in Wallet is visible on the left, the EMV contactless receipt is on the right. It looks boring but it all just works. That’s neat. It would be great if Mastercard and Visa joined the party.

 

iOS 11.2.5 Arriving January 18?

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Apple Pay Suica performance tweaks in iOS 11.2.5 are holding steady in the beta 3 release. JR East also released a special Mobile Suica system maintenance downtime notice today. Major maintenance will be done January 30 from midnight to 4 am. There is also special iPhone only Mobile Suica maintenance scheduled for the early morning hours on January 18.

Maybe it’s nothing but the timing feels like a perfect fit for the official iOS 11.2.5 release: January 18 Japan/January 17 USA

Apple Pay Suica 2017

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John Gruber wrote a great re-review of iPhone X with a related post on the Face ID – Double Click to Confirm Apple Pay gesture. It took some time to adjust but like Gruber the iPhone X side button double click to confirm Apple Pay works better for me than Touch ID did on iPhone 7.

But I don’t use it all that much because my main Apple Pay card is Suica set to Express Transit. Apple Pay Suica Express Transit on iPhone X is a winning combination. Here are some thoughts of using Apple Pay Suica for a year.

Suica Before Apple Pay
Plastic Suica was always more convenient and much faster than credit cards or pre-paid cards like au Wallet for store purchases. Regardless of the technology: chip and pin, EMV, FeliCa, or the card type: credit, debit, pre-paid; any card that uses the credit card processing system for transactions is always slower than Suica.

I don’t think there is anything out there that matches or beats Suica or any IC transit card for transaction speed. But speed is not everything. Despite the promise and convenience of plastic Suica, recharging it was a pain.

Not the actual recharge procedure mind you, Suica cash recharge is very simple but I always forgot to recharge plastic Suica at the station when the balance got low. Either that or I was cash short for a “decent” recharge of ¥3,000 or more. Suica was convenient, but not convenient enough for constant use outside of using it as a commuter pass.

The Apple Pay Difference
Suica and Apple Pay is a perfect martini of fast cash and slow credit with the secret dash of always online mobile technology. Apple Pay Suica recharge completely removes the cash recharge docking requirement transforming Suica into a super slick card for transit and store purchases that uses the pokey credit card for occasional financial backing.

This mobile difference that removes the Suica cash recharge docking requirement makes all the difference. Purchasing or riding anything, anywhere, anytime is simply pulling iPhone out and holding it to the reader. It quickly becomes second nature.

Japanese Android users enjoy Mobile Suica via the Mobile Suica app but iPhone users enjoy out of the box built-in Apple Pay Suica support which offers more flexibility along with the ultimate flexibility of using Apple Pay Suica with Apple Watch.

Hong Kong Octopus card users with Galaxy 8 enjoy a similar built-in service that removes the physical docking cash recharge requirement with the recently launched Smart Octopus on Samsung Pay. It will be interesting to see if the new service enjoys a similar Apple Pay Suica like uptake in the new year.fullsizeoutput_87ca

iOS 11.2.5 Beta 2 Update and Apple Pay Suica Maintenance Downtime (U)

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iOS 11.2.5 beta 2 (15D5046b) is out and Apple Pay Suica performance is as solid if not better than beta 1. Everything feels snappy now and 11.2.5 is shaping up to be a solid performance update that I think will be the first iOS 11 “gold standard” release.

Also today JR East issued an Apple Pay maintenance downtime notice via Suica App, Apple Pay Suica Recharge might timeout or be unresponsive during the  December 21 7 am~8 am local time maintenance window. If so, JR East says try again.

Recharge with Suica App credit card or JR East Smart Recharge machine is unaffected.

Update: All done and no complaints on a Twitter.