A Very Slow Recharge

Some olde Transit IC Card recharge machines are slow. With Apple Pay Suica Recharge you won’t miss your train.


Apple Pay Transit Beta Forever

iOS 11.3 Apple Pay added support for Beijing and Shanghai China Express Transit cards and iOS 11.4 will evidently continue the ‘Express Transit Beta’ rollout with support for Jiangsu, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Chongqing transit cards.

Unfortunately a reader reports that Apple Pay Transit users in Beijing and Shanghai are encountering the same kinds of NFC gate error problems that iPhone X Apple Pay Suica users have experienced since November.

Another reader mentioned that the Apple engineer who got fired when his daughter uploaded a iPhone X video on YouTube last year was the iPhone X NFC lead. A Japanese reader also reports that his iPhone X Suica problem is worse since upgrading to iOS 11.3 and matches my own iOS 11.3 iPhone X Suica experience. Suica transit gate errors are more frequent than iOS 11.2.5 ~ 11.2.6.

Apple is currently advertising for 19 NFC related engineer positions including a field test engineer for Japan. I think the iPhone X Apple Pay Suica problem and the Apple Pay China Transit beta problem will be us for a while longer. Both are clearly “beta” problems but beta should never be an excuse for delivering inferior products and services.

iOS 11.4 Developer PreviewApple Jobs for NFC engineers

For more information please see:
iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide (English Version)
iPhone X Suica問題Q&A交換ガイド(日本語版)

Something Went Wrong in Siri’s and Apple Maps Development, Again

Tech writers keep coming back to Siri again and again. The latest being The Information’s scoop on, yet again, what went wrong with Siri’s development.

John Gruber on Siri September 2017:

Siri, as it stands today, is at best a halfway product. Again, I’m pro-Siri in the voice assistant debate, but even so I think it’s generous to describe it as “halfway”. The whole category is garbage, Siri included. And frankly, it just doesn’t feel like Apple has made as much progress in six years as they should have.

Something went wrong in Siri’s development, and it wasn’t the voice quality.

John Gruber on Siri March 2018:

The gist of The Information’s story is that Siri has existed for seven years without cohesive leadership or product vision, and the underlying technology is a mishmash of various systems that don’t work well together.

I wrote back in September that Siri’s and Apple Maps problems are one and the same. Gruber didn’t agree. That’s OK but the approaches and resulting organizational problems, where to focus and execute, really are one and the same DNA.

twitter maps 2

To paraphrase Steve Jobs, yet again, mistakes and problems are not a problem if Apple can find ’em and fix ’em. There is an important point in The Information’s story that Gruber mentions but fails to recognize:

Several former employees said Mr. Williamson made a number of decisions that the rest of the team disagreed with, including a plan to improve Siri’s capabilities only once a year….Team members said they argued in vain that that model was wrong for Siri, which they believed needed to be an online service that continuously improved, not updated annually.

Siri and Apple Maps never learned to walk and chew gum at the same time. Improvements are kept for the annual WWDC rollout, a strategic mistake that only adds to the public perception that Siri and Apple Maps never improve, which is not true.

If Apple simply ditched the annual improvement cycle for Siri and Apple Maps public perception would change for the better. The real work is long term but fixable. Mobile Me was a disaster and iCloud had a difficult birth, but iCloud did eventually learn how to walk and chew gum. Siri and Apple Maps can too.

Gimme The Green Speed

NTT Docomo’s Premium 4G service speed comes in 2 basic versions, the fast one for Android, the slightly slower one for iPhone. As I wrote back in October:

iPhone 8/X can achieve up to 500Mpbs download speeds on Premium 4G with 3CC CA (but only in central Japan for now). It’s the same for story for KDDI and SoftBank. An interesting side note is that the Apple Japan specs page originally published the iPhone 8/X top download speed as 800Mpbs then changed it.

5 months later Docomo has yet to upgrade their Tokyo area 4G network iPhone speed to 500Mpbs. The Docomo Speedtest app always shows Tokyo @ 450Mpbs (purple) with 500Mpbs (green) just a month out. But this Docomo tease has been going on for a few months now, the Green Speed is always just around the corner.

iOS 11.3 beta 5 bumped the Docomo carrier file number to 32.0 so maybe, just maybe the Green Speed finally arrives with iOS 11.3.

Apple Pay Suica Error Flicker Fix (U)


If you are experiencing Apple Pay Suica error flicker with iPhone X / iOS 11.2.6 at JR transit gates as shown in the video above, try the following:

1) Turn off Suica Express Transit Card in Wallet
2) Restart iPhone
3) Turn on Suica Express Transit Card in Wallet and authenticate with Face ID

You can also try switching between different Suica Express Transit Cards, but toggling it off/on seems to work best.

This is not a fix, it’s a temporary workaround that might help some cases. It might degrade over time or disappear with the next update. No read yet if this improves overall iPhone X Apple Pay Suica performance which is sluggish compared to iPhone 7 / 8 and Apple Watch 3. Time will tell.

Field tests are still ongoing with some readers testing on iOS 11.3 beta 3. I will post further developments here.

May the iOS software gods be with you.

As usual I spoke too soon for which I apologize. After 3 days of error free transit Apple Pay Suica Express Transit error flicker with my iPhone X returned with a vengeance. The workaround does not fix the iPhone X Express Transit error problem. iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Express Transit performance still sucks, Apple needs to fix it.

iPhone X has a NFC hardware problem, for more information see:
iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide (English Version)
iPhone X Suica問題Q&A交換ガイド(日本語版)