Vikas SN, writing for Moneycontrol:

Twitter has extended its Communities feature to India with the launch of a Cricket-focused community called Cricket Twitter-India that will enable users to talk all things cricket in multiple Indian languages.

The launch comes as the T20 Cricket World Cup officially kicks off later this week.

and

Live cricket scorecards will be available on the Sports tab of Twitter’s discovery-focused Explore page. These scores will also continue to appear on event pages during a match, so that users “can follow the conversation and the scores in real time”, the company said.

Twitter said that more than 75 million conversations were just about cricket on the platform between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.

The Communities feature on Twitter is quite confusing to me, largely because I think it’s being shoehorned into a platform not meant for such a thing. However, I do think that if Twitter opens up the feature to more cricket-loving Indians, they might see a much wider adoption and hopefuly tweak the feature so that it feels part of the overall Twitter experience.

WhatsApp Begins Rolling Out End-to-End Encrypted Backups on iOS and Android

Facebook has announced that it has now begun rolling out End-to-End Encrypted Backups on iOS and Android devices.

Starting today, we are making available an extra, optional layer of security to protect backups stored on Google Drive or iCloud with end-to-end encryption. No other global messaging service at this scale provides this level of security for their users’ messages, media, voice messages, video calls and chat backups.

You can either set your own password, or let WhatsApp automatically generate a 64-digit encryption key on your device.

Whatsapp End-to-End Encrypted Backups

Facebook was under a lot of pressure in recent times to introduce this feature, so I’m glad to see it finally arrive now. Considering it has more than 2 billion users, this will be a slow rollout, starting with those who are running the latest version of WhatsApp on iPhones and Android devices. If you see this option, make sure to flip the switch right away.

Pretty nice feature introduced by the 1Password folks that allows you to share passwords or any other items from your 1Password vault with anyone, even those who don’t use 1Password.

The sharing happens over a link, and you get to control how long the password can be viewed or who gets to view it.

I missed this story from August by Pratap Vikram Singh, writing for The Ken:

Vi, India’s third largest telco, is on the verge of closure. Things reached a head when a letter from promoter Kumar Mangalam Birla to a govt official was leaked

and

The letter, dated 7 June, was sent from Aditya Birla Group chairperson Kumar Mangalam Birla to Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba. In it, Birla pleaded for “immediate active support” from the government. Without this, he warned, the telco would be driven to “an irretrievable point of collapse.” Birla even offered to hand over his 27% stake in the company to the government or any entity chosen by it in order to ensure the company, India’s third largest telco, remained a going concern. Later media reports indicated that Vi had also conveyed this message to banks.

I can’t imagine how Vi is planning to survive in the market so excellently dominated by Airtel and Jio. Not only is Vi’s network piss-poor, their customer support isn’t any better either. And to make matters worse, the merger of Vodafone and Idea was like a self-inflicted leg wound in the midst of a 100m sprint.

The folks at Cloudflare have published a fascinating look into the recent ~6 hour long downtime that the Facebook network went through, taking down not just the Facebook product itself, but also WhatsApp, Instagram, FB’s internal looks, and a lot more. It’s a somewhat technical explanation, but Cloudflare’s Tom Strickx and Celso Martinho have made it very easy to understand.

Today at 1651 UTC, we opened an internal incident entitled “Facebook DNS lookup returning SERVFAIL” because we were worried that something was wrong with our DNS resolver 1.1.1.1. But as we were about to post on our public status page we realized something else more serious was going on.

Social media quickly burst into flames, reporting what our engineers rapidly confirmed too. Facebook and its affiliated services WhatsApp and Instagram were, in fact, all down. Their DNS names stopped resolving, and their infrastructure IPs were unreachable. It was as if someone had “pulled the cables” from their data centers all at once and disconnected them from the Internet.

How’s that even possible?

It’s really interesting to see how a (possibly) minor piece of code can take down large parts of the internet like this. Honestly, it would be a good thing for the internet overall of Facebook disappears from the internet, but I feel for everyone at Facebook behind this issue. Major hugs to the people involved in bringing the network back up.

Then again, imagine messing up so bad that your boss ends up losing $6 billion.

“[…] an incredible integration of two amazing products,” I exclaimed on Twitter.

Fastmail has teamed up with the folks at 1Password to release Masked Email — a seamless integration between the two services that enables you to create unique email addresses when signing up for online services.

When you’re filling out the signup form, 1Password automatically creates a new Masked Email (email alias) for you and saves it as a Login. The good thing about this announcement is that you can manually created Masked Email aliases outside of 1Password on the Fastmail website, and if you use a custom domain with the service, your Masked Email aliases can also be created using the custom domain.

Fastmail is one of the best email services out there and I highly recommend it. As of today, I’ve been using them for 8 years and 6 months, and have been a very happy customer.

A Few Minutes with iPhone 13 Pro

I got to spend a few minutes with the iPhone 13 Pro yesterday. A friend of mine bought iPhone 13 Pro from a local Vijay Sales outlet — quite the surprise that she lucked out finding a unit there. Only happened because someone else who had made a pre-booking there cancelled and she incidentally called up the outlet asking if they had any stock. She chose the 256GB Sierra Blue version, the exact same thing I’m getting. My unit is due to arrive some time in November, so I couldn’t contain my excitement and went over to her’s to get some quick hands-on time with the phone.

I have been using the iPhone XS Max for the last three years, but decided to switch to the smaller iPhone 13 Pro (not Max) this time. Owing to this, I have been a little concerned that it’d feel too small to my liking, but the concerns were quickly dismissed after holding the phone in my hand.

These are my initial impressions & thoughts about the iPhone 13 Pro:

  • The Sierra Blue color looks beautiful in person. It doesn’t matter how many videos you’ve watched of the unit being unboxed and reviewed, the first impressions are still so delightful. There’s this peculiar sheen on the subtle blue colored frosted-glass finish at the back that just looks stunning.
  • Although smaller in size compared to the XS Max, the slight weight increase this year has, I think, proved to be beneficial to me. The heft of the phone felt right in my hands, and the bulk that the camera modules and larger battery have added made me feel that this is something I can instantly get used to.
  • The Camera modules on the back are huge, with the bump taking up more than half of the width of the phone.
  • The lenses are BIG. My iPhone XS Max lenses looked like a kid standing next to Andre the Giant.
  • The 120Hz ProMotion display feels insanely good. There have been several improvements to the display through the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and now iPhone 13, so this is a huge jump for me. The text and elements felt rich and almost printed on the screen. The scrolling and system-wide animations were delightful. I loved it.
  • The “Surgical-grade Stainless Steel” edges are a fingerprint magnet. I shudder to think what it’d look like on the darker Graphite version.
  • The photos that come out of the camera are astonishing. Photos from my phone feel like a something out of a cheap Android OEM phone in comparison. I was especially blown away by the Night Mode quality. A random photo of a tree under a streetlight ended up being well-lit, sharp, and crisp. There was barely any ugly noise or dark areas between the leaves of the tree. I can’t wait to try out the cameras in detail.
  • The Macro mode — holy shit!
  • On that note, the automatic camera switching is super jarring.

I’m really excited for my new iPhone, and I can’t wait to take the cameras out for a review.

Om Malik has published his thoughts about the new iPad mini — based on using Apple’s review unit for ~5 days. He makes it clear that this isn’t a review, as he hasn’t spent enough time with it. Yet he felt the need to write about his early impressions. You should read the whole thing, but these two paragraphs really stood out to me.

The iPad Mini screen is about 18 to 24 inches from the eyes. By keeping the brightness below 50 percent, my eyes don’t get tired despite a long reading session. It is quite pleasant to read on the iPad Mini, thanks to its upgraded screen. I can lounge in my Eames chair, a cup of coffee on the side, and skim through morning reading relaxed and without hunching over. I much prefer this lean-back mode of consuming the words. The screen is on my desk. I can listen to a podcast in the background, but it doesn’t feel like work again. It feels more of a relaxed consumption of information.

and

The best way to extract the most out of the smallest iPad is to think of it as a device enhanced by non-keyboard input methods — Scribble with Pencil, snapping photos with the cameras, or using Siri/voice input. The improved “Scribble” allows you to make notes, do quick searches, and even find directions. It is a very addictive way to use the iPad, especially in the smaller size.

To me, this looks like the most incredible media consumption device there has ever been. It’s powerful, but small enough to hold it and use it almost anywhere. It’s quite comfortable to use, and I have no complaints about iPadOS 15 not being able to live up to the hardware.

I’d have already bought this if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg in India.