Apple’s Keynote is on at 6pm today for all those interested!
It might not be shown at the event but I’m looking forward to the new Apple Pay features releasing with these devices and iOS 10. It’s been a great time spending late nights disassembling the Wallet app, Apple Maps (yes, you’ll see why) and listening closely to movements being made at card issuers.
Unfortunately, not getting any of the jobs I applied for over the last month or two means no new devices for me this year, no matter how much I want a new Watch with the second secure element dedicated to Japanese transit pass support and the ability to use it to login to arcade games.
So what do we think of all the new announcements?
I’m loving watching all the different technologies I’ve been studying over the last year or so come together. Even throwing out the Jony Ive speak, the full AirPods experience would not be possible without a lot of recent additions and improvements to continuity that were originally built for Handoff and the Watch along with Siri intent intelligence, iCloud syncing of settings, tokens and states similar to what’s used in HomeKit, improvements to the Bluetooth audio standards, the pairing from the Apple TV setup and the changes to audio routing in iOS 10. While the AirPods themselves are clearly not going to be great for most people, the same exciting software features built around them are also going in to Beats. Would love to see other accessory makers have access to that.
Note: If you’re not me, you likely do not care about the rest of this post. Please let me have my fun though.
On the payment side, we didn’t exactly see the new Apple Pay features that would be relevant to Monzo but I did get my Suica support! Sad to see that it’s only in the Japanese specific configuration of the iPhone 7 but good that it will be in all Series 2 Watches worldwide. Maybe I need to find a way to import a Japanese iPhone or just wait until next year. http://www.apple.com/jp/apple-pay/
Notice how Touch ID is not used to authenticate purchases in the Suica sequences but is used for the QUICPay and iD credit cards as they are contactless EMV/standard Apple Pay. It’s a requirement from JR East for speed as their gates can handle an insane number of people passing through them every minute and fumbling for authentication on a low value fare payment was considered unacceptable back when Mobile Suica was originally built on the Osaifu-Keitai system for flip phones. For bonus points, identify the Suica readers, contactless EMV readers and the hybrid readers that will take both.
Also interesting that you can import the stored value of an existing physical Suica card. All it’s doing there is creating a new card on the phone and then seemingly doing an offline balance transfer?
As for maps, take a close look at the iPhone on the right in the fourth image of this Apple Newsroom article. http://www.apple.com/newsroom/2016/09/apple-pay-coming-to-japan-with-iphone-7.html
Other than that, looks like all the iPhone models got a large price increase in the UK (Thanks Brexit ). I’ll let the internet get back to arguing about the sad loss of the headphone jack now.
I just feel that we have been royally shafted by Apple in regards to pricing. For years people have been complaining about dropping the 16GB model and now that they have done so it has come at a cost to UK customers. Last year £620 could get you a 64GB iPhone whereas this year 32GB costs £600. Also, the watch has also increased from 369 to 400. I’m probably going to skip this generation by the time next year my 6 will probably be on its last legs.
I’m a bit confused by the pricing. Whilst it seems on the face of it there are price increases, the iPhone 6S 128gb was £699, the same price as the iPhone 7 128gb.
Couldn’t you just change the country settings in the iPhone to Japan to get access to Suica?
I have my iPhone’s country set to Australia mainly for the metric settings (feet, yards, miles, really UK?), but I have to change it to the UK to add a UK-issued card to Apple Pay. Once added. I can then change it back of course.
Sadly not, Suica support requires the Japan exclusive model A1779 (iPhone 7) or A1785 (iPhone 7 Plus). These models include the second secure element required for secure FeliCa communications. US CDMA models A1660 and A1661 as well as rest of world GSM models A1778 and A1784 do not include this hardware.
All Series 2 Watches seem to include this hardware though and I know it is the eventual aim of JR East to make this available on all devices for international users in time for the 2020 Tokyo games. No idea why it’s restricted like this only on the phones for this year, may have been added late in the two year development cycle?
I can understand why Apple is integrating Sony’s Felica chips in Japan -1.9 million payment terminals already use the technology there. Strange that Series 2 Watches include the hardware worldwide. Where did you come across this?
Oh for sure, it’s important to note that debit cards are practically non-existent over there. It’s credit or ATM/online cards. Everything is still cash based with stores very rapidly moving to FeliCa IC card payments in the cities just in recent years. Very rapidly is possibly even an understatement, in my trip last year, I could use Suica to pay for everything from vending machines drinks to full food bills and shopping around the Tokyo and Osaka areas. I would go as far as to say that acceptance of Suica there felt significantly higher than contactless does here in the UK.
As for where I came across the hardware issue, it’s a combination of a few things.
The above tweet got my attention on the issue.
If you’re ever looking for recent iPhone model numbers, this is always the page to check. Thankfully Apple had updated it. Note the Japan exclusive models with otherwise identical band support.
As for the Watch, I’m not seeing those same split models in watchOS or retail inventory. Waiting for Apple to update this page so I can get a solid public confirmation. Knowing the project on the JR East side aims to make it available on all major international devices that are brought to the 2020 Tokyo games, the enormous amount of engineering effort that Apple has put in to reducing the number of region specific configurations and that the Watch is on an entirely different production schedule than the iPhone due to lower volume and regulatory submission times, I see the iPhone 7’s split models being the outlier.
From a manufacturing and logistical standpoint, producing two special iPhone models to go in to a tightly controlled carrier and store supply channel is not that great of a deal, producing a specific Apple Watch Series 2 for Japan would require 10 different models (Steel, Sport, Edition, Hermes, Nike+ times the 38 and 42 sizes) in 50 different configurations of colour and band. As there is no technical information to say otherwise, I’m willing to put my bet on the Watch having the hardware in all regions.
If there are any major restrictions, it’ll be in a similar place to where iOS stores region legal requirement flags such as forced camera shutter sounds and the EU headphone volume warning/limit. My understanding is that it’ll just work if you manage to provision a card from inside the upcoming update to the Suica charge app though.
Maybe it’s just wishful thinking though, I really want to dig in to Apple’s implementation as I have so many unanswered questions about the way that stored value transactions are tunnelled for topup and online payments, if the device holds the same public log that the cards do, if that log is transmitted to other devices (it’s a popular thing on Android to take advantage of NFC to read your IC card’s public data such as value and recent transactions for accounting purposes), if the Apple Pay topup supports international cards (previous Mobile Suica implementations do not, this was set to change as part of the same JRE project), how balance recovery from lost devices works, if there is any kind of balance transfer or syncing between the phone and Watch (Stored value remember! Same card can’t exist in two places.) if the Watch requires the double press of the side button to pre-arm payment (not only is it security on the original Watch but it also saved battery, interesting to see if they added the same NFC field energised wake line that’s in all the iPhones. Video suggests they did.), if you can set a different default payment card for regular Apple Pay and transit payments, etc.
In other news, interesting that AirPods are compatible back to the iPhone 5, same as the Apple Watch. I believe it could technically go back to the 4s if that device was getting iOS 10.
Thanks for the detailed reply and links Richard!
It’s fascinating how IC cards developed for Japan’s railway systems have evolved into today’s mobile Super Urban Intelligent Card for making payments everywhere.
Maps support for transit in the fourth image also looks impressive!
Looking at Apple’s list of LTE phones…
There seem to be some subtle differences: Bands 11 (1500 MHz) & 21 (1500 MHz) are available in Japan but not the UK.
“iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2 sold in Japan will support FeliCa Type-F NFC contactless technology, which is used every day for more than 160 million transactions across Japan.”
*FeliCa / Suica / QUICPay / iD support
also seems to suggest a Watch version unique to Japan but you raise some good points for not going split version.
On the subject of wireless headphones, I came across this article in today’s Standard:
Whoops, I could swear I counted them all up earlier. Apologies for the error there, LTE is not something I know a lot about.
As for the statement, it’s true but also doesn’t necessarily go against anything I’ve found.
Just in case everybody isn’t sick of Suica talk yet, I realised that I haven’t linked an incredibly informative presentation from earlier this year at the NFC Forum. Slide 60 (numbered 70 on the actual presentation for some reason) is just another part of what leads me to strongly believe that the technology is destined for all devices internationally, even if it didn’t make the cut this year.