iOS6 Upgrade Features Reads Like a Windows Update

September 27, 2012

This morning I woke up to a little red 1 bubble on my iPhone 4 (not the 4S) Settings button.

I was surprised at first and then realized that Apple is at war with Google. Not only has the media reach reporting of their flagship maps changed from Google’s fully functioning and totally sufficient app to Apple’s buggy launch but there is a direct integration with Facebook, a feature I don’t like, don’t want and which will further encourage me not to download iOS 6 or buy a new iPhone. The Facebook integration also strikes me as annoyingly supporting a competing brand within the Apple ecosystem, something that Google Maps artfully dodged by having a mostly OEM feel to it.

I can’t believe Steve Jobs would have approved the tether to Facebook, it cheapens the brand in my opinion and it opens the iPhone up to one more vendors disappointments if Facebook’s integration or support should fail.

I realize as I am writing that the difference to me on this upgrade is that I don’t recall prior upgrades being pushed to me. Apple always had a smart way to compel me to follow the heard voluntarily. This time, however, that simple little push message feels more like an act of desperation rather than a friendly and thoughtful Apple reminder.

In any event, curiosity got me to read the 200+ “updates”, a statement which in and of itself which is anathema to Apple’s success in selling Simple. As if the updates for Chinese users have any meaning to me, and as if I am impressed by a larger number of updates. A larger number tells me there is too much that is new, more than I want to learn, and much that probably remains under developed. Sounds like a Windows update advertisement.

I miss the days of Simple. With the movement into the murky area of Patent litigation and this type of upgrade/launch, I do wonder if the market may eventually become very disappointed. Existing sales and user base can probably support 1-2 more botched launches, but for now this is no longer the Apple I’ve been a fan of.

I wonder if people will camp out for 400+ updates in the iPhone 6? Maybe they will use the time studying all the new changes? Hopefully it will be during a warm month.

For a full list of published updates see below. Decide for yourself after you read it.

This update contains over 200 new features, including the following:
Maps
Apple designed vector based maps
Turn-by-turn navigation with spoken directions on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (2nd and 3rd generation)
Real-time traffic information
Flyover for photo-realistic, interactive 3D views of major metro areas on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation), and iPod touch (5th generation)
Local search results with Yelp photos, ratings, reviews, and available deals
Siri integration for requesting directions and finding places along a route
Siri improvements
Sports: scores, player stats, game schedules, team rosters, and league standings for baseball, basketball, football, soccer and hockey
Movies: trailers, showtimes, reviews and facts
Restaurants: reservations, reviews, photos and information
Send a Tweet
Post on Facebook
App launch
Eyes Free in supported automobiles
Local search available in Siri supported countries (availability may be limited during initial rollout)
Additional country and language support for Canada (English and Canadian French), China (Mandarin), Hong Kong (Cantonese), Italy (Italian), Korea (Korean), Mexico (Spanish), Spain (Spanish), Switzerland (Italian, French, German), Taiwan (Mandarin), US (Spanish)
Supported on iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (5th generation)
Facebook integration
Single sign-on from Settings
Post from Photos, Safari, Maps, App Store, iTunes, Game Center, Notification Center and Siri
Add location and choose audience for any post
View up-to-date Facebook profile photos and contact information in Contacts
View Facebook events and birthdays in Calendar
Like content and see your friends’ Likes in App Store and iTunes Store
Shared Photo Streams
Share selected photos with the people you choose
Friends can view shared photos in Photos app, iPhoto and Apple TV
Friends can like and make comments on individual photos
Passbook
One place for boarding passes, store cards, movie tickets and other passes
Barcode display for boarding flights, buying coffee, getting into movies and other actions
Passes displayed on Lock Screen based on time or location
Passes can be automatically updated
Supported on iPhone and iPod touch
FaceTime improvements
FaceTime over cellular support for iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation)
Receive FaceTime calls, sent to your iPhone number, on your iPad and iPod touch
Phone improvements
Do Not Disturb to suppress incoming calls and notifications
‘Reply with message’ option when declining a call
‘Remind me later’ option based on time or location when declining a call
Mail improvements
VIP mailbox to quickly access mail from important people
Flagged email mailbox
Insert photos and videos when composing email
Open password protected Office docs
Pull down to refresh mailboxes
Per account signatures
Safari improvements
iCloud tabs to see open pages on all your devices
Offline Reading List
Photo upload support
Full screen landscape view on iPhone and iPod touch
Smart app banners
JavaScript performance improvements
App Store and iTunes Store improvements
Updated store design
iTunes Preview history
Complete my season
Complete my album
Game Center improvements
Challenge friends to beat high scores and achievements
Post high-scores and achievements to Facebook and Twitter
Friend recommendations based on your Facebook friends
Accessibility improvements
Guided Access to limit device to one app or restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen
VoiceOver integration with Maps, AssistiveTouch and Zoom
Support for Made for iPhone Hearing Aids for iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S
Improved privacy controls for Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos and data shared over Bluetooth
Reminders can be reordered in the Reminders app
Custom vibrations for alerts on iPhone
Clock app for iPad
Clock alarm with song
Search all fields in Contacts
Automatic movie mode for improved video sound quality
Definitions of a selected word for Chinese, French, German and Spanish
New keyboard layouts for French, German, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic and Icelandic
Keyboard shortcuts shared across devices via iCloud
Bluetooth MAP support
Global network proxy for HTTP
Features for China
Baidu web search
Sina Weibo integration
Share videos to Tudou
Share videos to Youku
Improved text input for handwriting and Pinyin
Bug fixes
Some features may not be available for all countries or all areas. Please visit this website for more details:
http://www.apple.com/ios/feature-availability

For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222

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Interesting Observations About a German Exit

September 26, 2012

CNBC.com Article: Why Euro Exit Is an Option for Germany

Should Germany leave the euro? It is, after all, the big country with an obvious exit option. The question becomes more pertinent after the decision by Angela Merkel, Germany’s conservative chancellor, to support Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, against Jens Weidmann, her appointee as head of the Bundesbank, over plans to buy bonds of governments in difficulty. The FT reports.

Full Story:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/49172628


Uber Bear Sees S&P at 800…Just Not Yet

September 25, 2012

CNBC.com Article: Uber Bear Sees S&P at 800…Just Not Yet

Bob Janjuah, the bearish contributing strategist at Nomura in London has long predicted the S&P 500 will head towards 800, a level not seen since the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. With the S&P 500 closing on Monday at 1,456, Janjuah has been forced to review his timing.

Full Story:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/49159577


Debasement vs. Technical Default

September 18, 2012

Debasement is a form of default. But it is not an event of default. This is critical to the path of risk assets from here. Many have termed printing money as debasement or financial repression.

A currency is debased as it is printed in order to pay off growing debts. Imagine you could simply photo copy 100 dollar bills and send them to your creditors and imagine that your creditors accepted those copies as payment to satisfy your bills. In this scenario as everyone pays their bills in copied currency, the amount of currency in circulation would grow. The value of all goods and services consumed grow much more slowly than we could photo copy bills (GDP growth is around 2%). I imagine if we were allowed to do this that we could grow our wealth by a whole lot more than 2% per year by photocopying. Therefore more money would be sloshing around chasing the same old goods and services. The richest person would become the person who could copy his money the fastest as each copied dollar would be worth less as it competes with more copied dollars and you in turn need more dollars to buy the same goods. Photo copiers would probably be worth a whole lot in this world!

Financial repression occurs as copied currency creates more demand for investments. Retirees and other savers living off of fixed (bond) income find that their income is fixed and tied to the interest rate on their bonds. So the retiree expecting $30k per year from investments and social security will get that, but what soon happens in the copied currency scenario is that he is penalized for not copying currency as the prices of essential items like milk and eggs goes from a few dollars to tens if not hundreds of dollars in our extremely imaginary scenario. In fact in this world the people who are rewarded are the borrowers because their interest payments are fixed in yesterday’s dollars but they can copy as much money as they need to in order to make interest payments and pay off their debts tomorrow.

Now consider this example in the context of a default. When a borrower defaults on a loan he is not able to pay back his lender the full amount he borrowed.

Assuming no imaginary scenario this amounts to your best buddy not paying you back all of the money he owes you.

In our imaginary scenario think of it this way. Your buddy borrows $500 when an iPhone costs $500 but he pays you back when an iPhone costs $2000. If he gives you the full $500 when an iPhone costs $2000, did he pay you back? The answer is tricky. Yes he gave you back your $500. But if you can’t buy the same things you could have when you lent it then your buddy has effectively defaulted on you.

Central banks around the world have drawn a guantlet. They have chosen to stealth fully default by paying off debts in devalued currencies. This will avert technical defaults but it won’t change the outcome if spending and revenues are not arrested and aligned to become sustainable.

Printing money to pay someone back is not making good on a promise, and it’s far less ethical than choosing not to pay someone back. It’s deceitful and deceptive and the vast majority of the worlds developed country citizens have no idea this is going on.


Is Ben Bernanke Finally Wrong?

September 18, 2012

Has anyone looked at the yield curve since QE3 was announced? Well the Fed published a paper within the last two years outlining the importance of immediate market moves as feedback for Fed policy. The rationale is that beyond the first 24-48 hours the impact of Fed announcements is less traceable due to other market news and events. Thus the Fed themselves observe interest rate impacts of major announcements and speeches to assess the efficacy of Fed Policy.

Interestingly enough, looking at Treasury Yield Curves for the 24 hour periods immediately following the announcement of QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist, term rates across the yield curve generally tightened (fell). However in the 24 hours after the announcement of QE3, all rates outside of 3 years actually increased.

I’m not claiming to know more than the next guy, but I’d be shocked if Uncle Ben thought he’d be kicking out the longer end of the curve. Granted the announcement was for MBS purchases and we can look at those curves, but widening treasury yields has negative implications throughout the bond market.

I’m not judging that the move was wrong, but I am questioning the strength of stocks and credit exposure which have both rallied since Thursday.


Printing Presses

September 14, 2012

With the announcement of a much more aggressive round of quantitative easing than most expected, Ben Bernanke succeeded in continuing the inflation of financial assets, many of which reside in the shadow economy.

My first response which I have been telling people and as many pundits have exclaimed is that this is absolutely a political decision, even if the process to the decision was acutely rational and ethical. The only way to avoid a poeticized outcome would have been to pause any aggressive announcements until after the election. But as I am learning through the process of renovating a NYC co-op, if the decision making benefits the “decider”, without recourse then in hindsight the outcome should have been clear.

In this case the ensuing lift in financial asset prices, while likely to do nearly nothing for Obama’s middle class, will probably lead to strong PR and messaging trough the campaign trail from here to convince the vast majority of easily fooled Americans that they are better off today than they were when the S&P bottomed shortly after Bush left office.

The difference this time around however is that financial asset prices no longer respond primarily to the fundamentals of the economy but are now heavily linked to the actions of central banks who rightfully believe that lowering the probability of global financial collapse can be achieved by debasing currencies in the near term.

What they remain dangerously dogmatic about is their ability to remove excess liquidity in a systematic and orderly fashion. Hubris in Wall Street a decade ago led to its near demise. It is 100% probable at this point that the hubris among central bankers will lead us to another, far more gruesome edge. The question becomes who will finance the bailouts then?

Bernanke laid out a gauntlet yesterday and is now playing a massive game of chicken with the bond market that drives the global economy. He is betting that the threat of unlimited bond buying will be enough to scare the doomsayers out of the market keeping, now, all interest rates lower for longer, further punishing savers and rewarding borrowers who are generally afraid to take many risks.

If he is right, his brilliance now has a clock on it. Endless debasement of the worlds reserve currency will last only as long as it serves the needs of the largest foreign holders. This is not a sustainable move. For the moment it benefits China who remains loosely pegged to the dollar. However it puts the US in a precarious position should US-Sino relations falter.

Bernanke, sadly, is consciously or unconsciously using money printing as a substitute for good decision making in congress who remain practically useless to the democratic process. For a moment I can argue that this is somewhat thoughtful, but the outcome will be to enhance Obama’s reelection which will undoubtedly buy him at least one more appointment in 2014.

The analogy that came to mind this morning is that Bernanke is printing dollars to take the burden off of the house and senate to print meaningful tax and legislative reform. This is similar to building a house out paper. It may deflect the winds for a while, but it will not protect you from the vast majority of “elements”.

The medium term result of this decision, particularly in the US will creep into risk asset prices as the market digests the growing risks to sovereigns currently perceived as irrefutably sound financial hubs. We now know that a banking system can only remain stable with the threat of sovereign intervention. How long will the US Government remain a credible threat to interrupt another financial crisis.

No business leaders see the economy picking up more than it has from QE1 and QE2. In fact the downturn in transportation and materials probably in some part affected Bernanke’s decision. Adding even more liquidity will not have the desired effect without a major shift in lending practices by major banks.

Eventually equity risk premia will reflect the growing burden on US Taxpayers who by the vast majority remain under employed and less wealthy than they were 10 years ago. The irony is that continued debasement will ultimately lead more currency into safe low yielding investments.

If the US has not gotten its fiscal house in order before zombie investors wake up, the consequences will put us in uncharted territory.

When Obama makes his acceptance speech I wonder if he will thank Uncle Ben.


Obama’s Middle Class

September 11, 2012

Great article outlining the impact of 0% interest rates on savers which most significantly effects the middle class who generally save and plan retirement to a fairly tight budget.

Obama’s Middle Class will wake up in a few years realizing that the government in all it’s public image to support them has slowly and steadily been robbing their savings in their efforts to monitize our collective debts.

I’m not arguing either the efficacy or soundness of this strategy, just pointing out the dubious politicking and massive PR effort that has come to define the Obama legacy.

Would we ever elect a President who would look us in the eye and call it what it is?

CNBC.com Article: As Low Rates Depress Savers, Governments Reap Benefits

A consumer complaint is ricocheting around the world: low interest rates are eating away at savings, the New York Times reports.

Full Story:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/48981774