Fix the rice emoji Apple, it’s gross

Many Japanese have pointed out this already, but the Apple rice emoji is just gross. The rice doesn’t look like cooked rice, it’s grey and unfit for human consumption, like it was left outside for a few days and is about to mold. The bowl design is weird too. It is a tea cup pressed into service? Is it an offering bowl? Whatever it is, it doesn’t look like it’s for human use either.

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The Apple Stock app widget needs some Japanese localization work

Japanese company names in the Stock app widget

Good localization is never easy, that is to say it’s easy to fuck up, especially when different app pieces come from different companies. I already pointed out that the Yahoo supplied backend Japanese data took a real nosedive after the Verizon purchase, but there is more.

Japanese stock ticker names in the Stock app widget are hideous to look at. They shrink into oblivion instead of intelligently truncating a long name to keep it readable. This is a textbook case of how not to do app internationalization. Nobody at Verizon or Apple evidently cares enough about quality to fix it. It’s another nail in the coffin of Apple’s typography legacy.


The End of Something

I have been reading Ken Kocienda’s Creative Selection and enjoying it. The epilogue is a little hard to take:

After Steve died, the Apple software development culture started to change. As time passed and other co-workers came and went, the culture changed more.

Kocienda left Apple in 2017. It was a time I was trying to get to the bottom of the iPhone X Suica problem. For me it was rude awakening, a gut feeling that Apple culture had changed.

The MacBook keyboard problem, the letter from Tim Cook to investors, the cancelled AirPower, the questionable Wallet UI changes in iOS 12.2…points to a changed Apple culture. It’s not the end certainly, but it’s the end of something.

Like Kocienda I consider myself lucky to have experienced the Steve Jobs return to Apple era, even just from the outside. Both Steve and Ken have good advice, don’t dwell on any great thing for long, just get busy working on the next great thing, whatever the next great thing is to you.

Apple Closing Store in Sendai

The bad news from Apple keeps on coming. The Apple Store in Sendai is closing January 25. A cost cutting move already? Relocation?

Update
9to5 Mac has the details, the older smaller space doesn’t fit with the modern store design that Apple wants for Japan. A reader sent the following comment:

I think the closure is due to the need to complete redesign the store to fit the new style. However either they cannot find a reasonable larger space to move into, or the foot traffic in Sendai doesn’t support the cost for the upgrade.

Sendai is almost as large as Nagoya, an economic hub city serving the Tohoku region. Hopefully Apple can eventually find the right location for a modern Apple Store.

More Apple Pay Octopus

UPDATE: Apple Pay Octopus is coming with iOS 13

Note: For simplicity and convenience I have migrated and merged older Octopus related posts here. All new Octopus related developments will be posted separately.

I assumed the Octopus Coming to Apple Pay post would be ignored in the end of year rush period. However the timing perfectly coincided with an Octopus Cards Limited press conference where the CEO demurred any Octopus tie-up with Apple and the post got much more attention than I ever anticipated. Obviously there are lots of iPhone users in Hong Kong who want Apple Pay Octopus. A few readers were confused by the situation and asked for some clarification.

First of all the source who correctly predicted last years Smart Octopus on Samsung Pay launch tipped me about the Apple Pay launch. That in itself was enough for me but here’s the thing: if Octopus Cards Limited (OCL) is really serious about expanding Octopus use on mobile platforms, taking the next step of getting Octopus on Apple Pay is the only way to achieve that.

Digital Wallets like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are the most tightly integrated NFC software and hardware digital wallet platforms out there with integrated FeliCa, but Apple is the only one to implement the necessary Secure Element on their own A Series/S Series hardware with FeliCa Networks keys, and sell the package globally. All the major NFC technologies are standard on Apple Pay: NFC A-B-F, EMV, FeliCa, MIFARE, VAS.

Octopus on Google Pay might look nice on paper but it can’t achieve anything of scale yet because of the highly fragmented nature of Android: to date hardware manufacturers have yet to produce an answer to Apple’s global FeliCa iPhone and Apple Watch, even though everybody’s smartphone has a NFC A-B-F chip. Not even Google has pulled it off. Huawei says they are planning to add global Felica but it will take time.

OCL is playing coy because majority shareholder Hong Kong MTR has added QR Codes and EMV contactless to the transit gate mix removing the exclusive Octopus Card franchise, but the technology and market politics don’t mesh. On one hand you have a fast, established and ‘open’ in-house contactless payment system (as in anybody can buy a plastic Octopus card and ride) basically run by public transit companies. On the other hand you have slow and ‘closed’ contactless payment systems (as in only people with certified credit cards and bank accounts can ride) run by major outside credit/debit network companies chipping off money from both customers and transit companies.

In this context putting Octopus on Apple Pay isn’t just adding a card to a digital wallet platform, it is also a statement of who ultimately controls, operates and benefits from the public transit gates. It’s more about market politics than technology, in other words another battle in the contactless payment turf wars. The outcome will be fascinating to watch but determines whether Octopus will remain a great transit payment platform for Hong Kong with a future, or not.

Update
It looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer for Octopus on Apple Pay.