au Wallet PrePaid joins Suica as the only other prepaid card on Apple Pay Japan. au Wallet PrePaid can be used for store purchases with QUICPay+ (slightly different than the regular QUICPay flavor), as well as for charging Suica Apple Pay. This is the first prepaid card that JR East has allowed for Suica Apple Pay charging via the Wallet app and could open the way for Line Pay and other popular prepaid cards later.
Prepaid cards are very popular with younger people, especially the under 18 crowd who cannot own credit cards. They are also handy for parents who want to keep an eye on allowances.
au posted a few videos explaining how to add and use au Wallet PrePaid:
JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) has been in the news a lot recently, and not in a good way. The fun started when JASRAC demanded that music schools, such as those run by Yamaha Music Foundation start paying licensing fees in 2018 or else be taken to court. Yamaha, faced with raising children’s music lesson fees, has threatened to sue JASRAC.
Japanese artists such as Hikaru Utada have publicly denounced JASRAC’s actions and don’t want their music rights used in such an abusive aggressive way. Ryuichi Sakamoto bluntly says JASRAC is a monopoly, which it is.
Instead of listening to the complaints of the artists whose rights it controls, JASRAC continues to turn up the heat by having police raid and shut down piano bars in Shinjuku because they were singing songs without paying JASRAC license fees. Remember that famous scene in Kurosawa’s ‘Ikiru’ when Takeshi Shimura sings the “Gondola Song”? That would not happen now because JASRAC wants a cut from the piano bar.
I knew a guy who worked for JASRAC. He made a huge salary and loved to throw his money around going to bars, treating his friends to the best Opera seats the world over. He also liked talking about his shakedown method: he would go around drinking at various bars and casually ask if the bar had a license for the background music. If they did not, he offered to negotiate a license deal right then and there, or threaten police and legal action. And of course lots of license deals got him big bonuses. I suspect bar bills were written off as a business expense as well. A sweet life.
The JAS-RACKET monopoly does’t sit well with record labels either. The Avex Groupquit JASRAC and signed with a different, less expensive rights agency last year. JASRAC’s image is already Uber-like odious. It will be interesting to see if sinks any lower when the Yamaha case goes to court and JASRAC has to justify why children have to pay license fees for their music lessons.
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.
One key feature of macOS High Sierra is the arrival of Apple File System (APFS) as the default file system format. The iOS 10.3 update migrated the iOS file system from HFS+ to APFS, an amazingly smooth transition that was celebrated at WWDC last week.
I particularly enjoyed reading his explanation of Unicode file naming and the limits of having the file system handle normalization. There will be two different flavors of APFS, native normalization will be default for iOS 11, the default for macOS High Sierra is normalization-insensitive. This should work well. The basic encoding issue that affects all systems everywhere however, remains:
it is time for the Unicode Consortium to map indistiguishable characters to the same encodings, so that each visually distinguishable character is represented by one, and only one, encoding.
That is a stark challenge, and one that I am sure will never even be started. But until we do, today’s minor running sores will only fester and grow.
I have heard similar complaints about the Unicode Consortium from Japanese font developers over the years. Unicode has done many good things but like any human organization there are agendas and politics. For some, the Unicode Consortium working method is too top down for comfort. Sometimes grand plans don’t work out, like IVS.
As Oakley points out, getting a big new effort off the ground is too much to ask of the Unicode Consortium.
According to Saitama Prefecture police, a group of three Chinese nationals purchased the cigarette cartons using two iPhones over a 10 hour period at a convenience store in Kawaguchi City, Saitama, totaling over 700 transactions between March 26 and 27. The single transaction limit was 20,000 JPY. Massive purchases by visiting Chinese tourists, known as ‘baku-gai’ (explosive buying), has been common and doesn’t raise concerns, though the trend is declining rapidly.
One member of the group was arrested and charged with fraud. Investigators believe the group used stolen credit card credentials and convinced the credit card company to send Apple Pay verification codes to different email addresses claiming the iPhone device owner had changed.
Security experts quoted in the article say that Japanese credit card companies need to be much more stringent authenticating card owners to avoid similar scams in the future.
As with most Japanese police reports details are pretty spare as the investigation is ongoing. It’s not clear from the article how the credit card information was obtained: a case of identity theft or some other means. Fault is clearly with the unnamed credit card company. There is not much Apple can do if credit card companies issue Apple Pay authorization codes without confirming identity.
Update 6/12: The Japan Times ran the story on June 3 from Kyodo New service. The English version is exactly the same as the Sankei Japanese one. It is interesting that the police knew the credit card data had been stolen but the credit card company apparently did not.
I don’t know why, but all of the three major Japanese map products use the same color to indicate large underground structures: pink. It’s a perfect slyly perverse color choice for Shinjuku, a place that Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki called ‘the lucky hole of Tokyo.’
Tokyo malls are underground shopping arcades attached to the large private rail train stations and department store retail empires of Keio, Seibu, Odakyu, Tokyu, etc. JR East only got started with the privatization of JNR in 1987 but has furiously rebuilt Tokyo station underground into a formidable retail area.
Shinjuku is the world’s busiest station and the most complex. The core JR East station is surrounded by multiple onion-like layers of private line stations and subway lines interlaced with mazes of underground shopping malls. Here is a quick comparison of the big three Japanese map products focused on Keio Mall in the Shinjuku underground west exit side.
Apple has not uploaded any indoor map data for iOS 11 developer beta yet, I suspect it will come late in the beta cycle. Here is the current Apple Map view of Shinjuku west.
Here is the same Keio Mall area in Yahoo Japan Map:
Even with just the sample we can already see that Apple’s indoor maps will look a lot more like Google than Yahoo Japan: lots of ‘triple C’ (custom color keyed) icons though store background colors remain neutral grey with tiny colored dots indicating store type. The sample shows promise but we won’t know until we see it in action as indoor maps are incredibly difficult to do well.
It will be fascinating to see how it all works in Apple’s take of Shinjuku station, the world’s most complex indoor mapping challenge. If Apple Maps can crack it, or even just match Google, Japanese users will certainly see it as another success following the well received launch of Japan transit.
Craig Federighi “finally” announced indoor mapping in Apple Maps for iOS 11 during the WWDC keynote. I say finally because this has been in the works for a very long time. I knew that Apple had been working hard mapping Tokyo indoor locations and was perplexed by the faux indoor mapping used in Apple Maps Japan Transit rollout. In my review at the time I wrote:
The big question is where does Apple’s indoor mapping effort go from here. Will they go the Google way of mapping everything above and below ground, or take the Yahoo Japan way of just showing above and below structures directly related to the station? If Apple only wants to show exits and entrances they could vastly improve the current experience by increasing on route exit signage size and providing information cards with real information.
So we finally get:
The launch list includes Tokyo and I hope to check out a real indoor Apple Map of Shinjuku station underground malls in the iOS 11 public beta. If Shinjuku station is not supported I’ll be seriously disappointed because if Shinjuku station underground doesn’t qualify as a Japanese mall in the Apple universe, nothing will.
Japan is not on the airport indoor map launch list but the major Tokyo stations are a much better place to start.