Apple Pay Suica has 3 different kinds of notifications: transaction notifications from transit, purchase and service mode activity, low balance reminders and commute plan renewal reminders. One problem of the iOS 12.2 Apple Pay Suica redesign is that Suica low balance and commute plan renewal reminders are not easy to find, especially if you have a Suica Commute Plan. Even Japanese users are confused. Here’s how to make sure you receive those reminders. Regular Suica is the easiest:
Suica Commute Plan reminders are much harder to find because the card design is different from regular Suica and hides reminder settings. It’s too easy for users to miss them. It’s a poor UI design that Apple needs to fix. Here’s how to set them:
Last but not least make sure you have Wallet Notifications turned on in Settings>Notification Center. If that is turned off you will not receive Suica notifications or reminders. I also turn on ‘Show Updates’ to receive updates from JR East. They are very good about only showing updates when absolutely necessary.
2 weeks after the release of iOS 12.2, Japanese social media has been very quiet about Apple Pay Suica Express Card problems. It’s a good sign that the majority of users are happy enough with iOS 12.2 Suica performance to care much about discussing it. Based on that and my own testing, I think it’s safe to say that iOS 12.2 is the first stable iOS 12 release for Apple Pay Suica, but Apple has been slower addressing Suica Express Card performance issues than earlier release cycles for iOS 10 and iOS 11. I’m not a fan of the iOS 12.2 Apple Card flavored Suica Wallet UI design but most people seem okay with it.
Here’s a rundown of previously reported iOS 12 Apple Pay Suica Express Card performance issues with iOS 12.2 feedback:
Suica Express Card error flicker: occasional error flicker at transit gates with iOS 12.0~12.1.4 on pre-A12 Bionic devices: iPhone 7 (JP model), iPhone 8, iPhone X (Rev. B) and Apple Watch 2~4. This is a completely different issue from the iPhone X NFC hardware defect. >>Feedback from users report this iOS 12 issue is fixed
Slow or unresponsive Suica Recharge: a long term performance issue where Suica Recharge is slow or fails half of the time especially when recharging from a Suica notification shortcut. >> This issue is fixed in iOS 12.2, Suica Recharge is robust and snappy
Dead Suica Express Card UI on n0n-A12 Bionic devices: a case of the hardware works but the software doesn’t, Suica works flawlessly on readers but Express Card UI notifications stops working and Suica balance fails to update after transactions at transit gates, store readers and Suica Recharge. This affects non-A12 Bionic devices iPhone 7 (JP model), iPhone 8, iPhone X (Rev. B) and Apple Watch 2~4 but is easy to fix by putting Suica in Service Mode for a few seconds. >> Feedback from users report this issue is fixed
Dead Suica Express Card UI on A12 Bionic devices: another case of the hardware works but the software doesn’t that only affects iPhone XS and iPhone XR. Suica works flawlessly on readers but the entire Apple Pay Suica Express Card UI dies: no notifications, no balance update, no Apple Pay sound, no feedback whatsoever. Service Mode does not revive the Suica UI but a restart fixes it. >>Fortunately this issue seems rare. Unfortunately I have experienced it on 2 separate iPhone XS devices and the bug is worse in iOS 12.2: previous iOS 12 versions exhibited this problem every 24~48 hours, iOS 12.2 (16E227) has is every 12 hours or less.
I will update this post with new performance feedback or observations.
iOS 12.2 rearranges the familiar Wallet UI to make way for Apple Card with prepaid cards like Suica along for the ride. The changes on the Suica prepaid side include new ‘Add Money’ and commuter pass ‘Renew’ button designs, transaction icons and other layout tweaks that look more like the Samsung One UI than iOS. It’s a halfhearted attempt to make prepaid functions more accessible than the previous iOS 10.1~12.1 Wallet design, but not very a successful one because of UI changes dictated by the forthcoming Apple Card. The total is less than the sum of the sloppily rushed parts. Let’s take a look.
Wallet UI Changes The main Wallet view for regular Suica cards now has the Add Money button for easy access next to the balance with the latest transaction listed with a huge icon in a separate area below. This ‘button up front’ tweak is easily the most successful and welcome design change for prepaid cards in iOS 12.2 Wallet:
The new Wallet design for Commuter Suica cards however fails to improve things from the previous design. The commuter pass information still resides on the same line with balance so you still have to tap to another screen to access Add Money and commuter pass renew buttons. There’s plenty of room without that huge useless transaction icon, why not just put it all on the main screen? Apple could have done a better design job here but again Apple Card was dictating the UI changes:
Tapping the new black “…” in the upper right corner brings up the Suica info/transactions view. The previous design had it in the lower right corner which I prefer as I find going down to tap feels more natural that reaching up to tap. Transaction history includes the new huge icons that indicate transaction type: transit-purchase-credit. These appear utter useless to me since the information is already listed in the text. Big icons in a list view are questionable at best, here they are just bad design because transit/e-money prepaid cards like Suica have a vastly different daily use profile than credit cards:
The Suica info window now has ‘Add Money’, ‘Renew’ placed near the top along with shortcut icons to Mobile Suica support. Look carefully and you can see the UI designers botched icon placement because some fool insisted the English word “Web” remain along with the Japanese even though English is completely unnecessary in Japanese localization. More Sloppy:
The ‘black instead of blue’ theme for the new Wallet card UI parts is a mystery and doesn’t mesh well with older Wallet UI parts such as adding cards which retain the older look. Why? Taken all altogether the Wallet UI changes feel lumpy and unpolished, Apple clearly didn’t sweat the details in the rush to get iOS 12.2 Wallet ready for Apple Card.
One last thing on iOS 12.2 Wallet changes, Japanese credit cards no longer list the latest transaction though I can only confirm this for JR East JCB View Card, Docomo Mastercard dCard and Tsutaya JCB T-Card. I suspect the change is part of the new transaction reporting feature unveiled with Apple Card. Perhaps Apple hopes to encourage card issuers to post transaction information dynamically and directly to Wallet instead of shunting it to separate apps. There are probably lots of Apple Pay Wallet changes under the hood that will be revealed at WWDC alluded to by Tim Cook today in the keynote that more Apple Transit like Ventra (iOS 12) and Octopus (iOS 13) would be ‘coming later this year’.
Suica Express Card error flicker: occasional error flicker at transit gates with iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X (Rev. B) and Apple Watch 2~4. This is a completely different issue from the iPhone X NFC hardware defect. There is no workaround and no feedback on iOS 12.2 performance yet.
Dead Suica Notifications/No Suica Balance Update: Suica Notifications stop working and Suica Balance fails to update at transit gates, store readers and Suica recharges. This affects iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X (Rev. B) and Apple Watch 2~4 but is easy to fix by putting Suica in Service Mode for a few seconds. No iOS 12.2 feedback yet.
Slow or unresponsive Suica Recharge: a long term issue where Apple Pay Suica recharge fails half of the time especially when recharging from a Suica notification shortcut. The good news is this issue in my iOS 12.2 beta testing appears to be fixed.
Dead Suica UI/Express Card power reserve ‘lite’: This only affects iPhone XS and iPhone XR. A kind of ‘Express Card power reserve lite’ bug kicks in occasionally. Suica works flawlessly on readers but the entire Apple Pay Suica UI dies: no notifications, no balance update, no Apple Pay sound, no feedback whatsoever. Service Mode does not revive the Suica UI but restart iPhone and all is good again. Fortunately this issue seems rare. Unfortunately I have experienced on 2 separate iPhone XS devices and the bug was worse in the final iOS 12.2 beta that shipped as the official release: previous iOS 12 versions exhibited this problem every other day, iOS 12.2 (16E227) has it after a few hours.
UPDATE Right on cue Japanese iPhone users are complaining about the UI changes in iOS 12.2 Wallet:
UPDATE 2 The iOS 12.3 update has greatly improved Suica performance, more Suica card UI changes and is highly recommended
iOS 12.2 beta 4 continues to tweak the Apple Pay Suica UI. Shortcuts from Suica notifications finally work and the main Suica screen now sports a ‘Charge’ (Add Money) button. The UI changes in 12.2 still feel lumpy and inconsistent however: in other system preferences blue indicates an operation or another screen, ever since iOS 12.2 beta 1 Wallet operations are indicated by black with a few blue text leftovers:
UPDATE A reader asked for some clarification of the updated Apple Pay Suica UI in beta 4. The information display is slightly different for regular and commuter Suica in the details screen. The top row of icons includes a commuter pass renewal shortcut with route details and balance information displayed further down. I think the iOS 12.2 Suica UI will continue to be a moving target, witness the sloppy icon text pushing up the Safari icon and off line with other icons in the commuter Suica screen. Clearly Apple is not sweating the details.
The iOS 12.2 beta 3 developer release has some UI tweaks for Apple Pay Suica. It is a little less rough than previous beta versions but still has a curiously un-Apple and inelegant UI design feel. From what I have seen so far, iOS 12.2 is a step backwards from the iOS 12.1 design. Other observations: Suica notification shortcuts are still useless and the new notification font design is simply hideous. As usual I do not recommend using beta software, stick with the official releases.