iOS 12 Suica bugs exacerbate iPhone X Suica problems and create confusion

iOS 12 Apple Pay Suica bugs are causing headaches for some users getting exchanges for iPhone X Suica problem devices (a NFC hardware problem across all iOS versions): users find they have the same Suica problems running iOS 12 (iOS 12.0 specific software bugs) on NFC hardware problem free Revision B iPhone X devices. Unfortunately for iPhone X users the 2 issues merge in a perfect storm. It’s confusing and only natural to assume nothing is fixed and yet another Apple Support runaround iPhone X exchange is needed to fix it. If you are using iOS 11.4.1 on Apple Pay Suica iPhone X, I suggest staying with it and not updating to iOS 12 just yet.

Apple Pay Suica users who update to iOS 12 and watchOS 5 report the following problems:

  •  Unresponsive Express Transit cards at transit gates where Apple Pay requests a Face ID/Touch ID/Passcode unlock
  • Transit gate error flicker
  • The Suica card balance doesn’t update

Affected devices: iPhone 7/7 Plus (JP models only), iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 2 (JP Model only), Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4.

iPhone XS is not affected by iOS 12 Apple Pay Suica issues thanks to A12 Bionic.

Fortunately iOS 12.1 has Suica bug fixes: Apple Engineering closed my original iOS 11.2.5 Suica error bug report filed in January 2018 saying the issue has been fixed in iOS 12.1. iOS 12.1 developer beta 4 went out earlier this week with 2 more likely to go before the official release. The just announced October 30 Apple Special Event would be a natural iOS 12.1 official drop date.

The iOS 12.1 and watchOS 5.1 updates will hopefully fix remaining Suica issues and provide relief for long-suffering iPhone X users who really need some peace of mind that only Apple can provide.


Apple adds support for contactless student ID cards in Wallet


Apple hit the on switch for contactless student ID cards today. The press release has nice photos but is vague. There is much more detail on the Apple support doc Use student ID cards in Wallet on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

The most interesting detail is the device eligibility: iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus and later, Apple Watch Series 1 and later and Express Mode isn’t available on iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. NFC-A/B, definitely not FeliCa powered as some sources were saying and not MIFARE powered either. It looks like Blackboard has something else up their sleeve for middleware but I’m willing to bet you that Student ID Express card performance is slower than Apple Pay Suica Express Card with power reserve even on the same iPhone XS/XR device. The Blackboard card format is FeliCa, the implementation appears to be PassKit NFC Certificate powered card emulation.

The rest of the support doc details confirm the cards are stored value (SV) with Express Mode and students can recharge them with Apple Pay, a credit/debit card in the eAccounts app or cash at the “school’s self-service machines”. In other words it’s just like Suica App and Apple Pay Suica for door locks instead of transit.

There is conflicting information about the Blackboard middleware technology used for Apple contactless student ID cards. The Express Card function is exactly what FeliCa offers and Blackboard supports. On the hardware side iPhone 6/6 Plus and later all have NFC A-B-F chips as do Blackboard NFC readers. There is a (very) remote possibility that Blackboard is utilizing its own FeliCa licensed middleware (and per device unique FeliCa Networks keys) on non-FeliCa devices and Apple built-in FeliCa on global FeliCa devices. I am trying to confirm details and will post developments here.

Update 2
The Blackboard card format is indeed FeliCa. The implementation appears to be Passkit NFC Certificate powered card emulation used across the board. It’s impossible to confirm if the ID cards are using standard FeliCa middleware on global FeliCa devices and something else on older devices but Apple’s agreement with FeliCa Networks includes a keys server for Apple devices. It’s possible that Apple is activating FeliCa keys on older devices just for Student ID cards.

Apple Event 2018 and Apple Values

1️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide
2️⃣ iPhone X Suica問題Q&A交換ガイド (Japanese)
3️⃣ Apple Denial and iPhone X Users
4️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Index

The Apple Event 2018 is less than 12 hours away. I’ll watch it and understand the excitement surrounding it, but it already feels very different from any other iPhone announcement, like something telecast from another time and place.

I have enjoyed my iPhone X in many ways but wanted to enjoy it more. Right of the box my iPhone X Suica Problem device was an annoyance but the Apple Pay Suica problem stubbornly remained, iOS update after update, exchange after exchange until I got my hands on a Rev-B iPhone X. Every step of the 11 month journey has been an endless loop between ‘Apple will do right by its customers’ hope and ‘Apple doesn’t give a damn about customers, they only care about pretending they do’ reality.

Nobody wants to unearth a fiasco, which I believe the iPhone X Suica Problem is, and there is only one conclusion I can come up with: Apple knew they were selling defective iPhone X devices but sold them anyway. Apple refuses to acknowledge the problem publicly and refuses to exchange all the iPhone X devices they know to be defective. It gets worse: a Docomo source told me Apple told Docomo to keep quiet about the problem.

The decision to sell a flagship product with a known defect reflects the corporate values of the current Apple executive leadership. Tim Cook and team are OK with that. Tim Cook can eulogize Apple corporate values all he wants to at the Apple Event, but I don’t believe a word of it anymore. Enough words Mr. Cook, I’ll believe in honest action when I see it. Car manufacturers do recalls of defective products, why not Apple if they love their customers so much?

Steve Jobs, for all his complex conflicting qualities, had the guts to stand up in front of everybody to explain the iPhone 4 Anntenagate debacle, or at least try to, and do something about it. Does Tim Cook have the same kind of leadership guts and values to do that?

So far he hasn’t shown us that he does.

H.I.S. Mobile Strange SIM Shocks Japanese

Junya Ishino’s report on H.I.S. Mobile’s “Hen na SIM” (Strange SIM) has raised a few eyebrows and comments on Twitter. Comments like how is Apple OK with this brazen hijacking of iOS Enterprise certificates and iOS Enterprise App distribution for profit?

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.

MIFARE and Taiwan Transit Coming with iOS 12 Apple Pay?

It’s interesting how different story threads weave together. Taiwan has been running a huge “come visit Taiwan” campaign in Japan the past year or so. Even Mastercard Japan has been in the game highlighting how easy it is for Japanese iPhone users to use Apple Pay when visiting Taiwan. It’s probably the only credit card ad out there that promotes iPhone Apple Pay NFC switching.

I had just run across a Japanese notice put out by the Taiwanese Representative Office in Tokyo announcing that EasyCard and iPass will accept credit card recharge starting in October when a reader contacted me with some interesting NFC switching related EasyCard and iPass tech information: Tokens use FeliCa while IC cards use MIFARE, the NFC chips support both NFC-A and NFC-F as required by NFC certification.

What does it all mean and why is EasyCard and iPass credit card recharge starting in October? The timing certainly fits well with a new Apple iPhone Event but could mean nothing since the announcement is for plastic credit card recharge at a kiosk. From a system standpoint it could mean that Taiwan is getting ready to put EasyCard and iPass on Apple Pay Transit as credit card recharge needs to be in place before hosting a transit card system on a mobile wallet platform.

EasyCard/iPass Apple Pay Transit support requires MIFARE middleware and MIFARE has been a major missing piece so far in Apple Pay. Having that in the iOS 12 official release would open up Apple Pay Transit for native EasyCard and iPass card support. Support for MIFARE transit card systems in Korea, UK, Australia and North America would also be possible but requires the cooperation of local transit operators.

Apple Pay support of EasyCard and iPass would be great not only for iPhone users in Taiwan but a boon for inbound visitors too just like it is for inbound Apple Pay Suica users.