Aditya Kalra, reporting for Reuters:

Tinder-owner Match Group has filed an antitrust case against Apple with the competition regulator in India, accusing it of “monopolistic conduct” that forces developers to pay high commissions for in-app purchases, a legal filing seen by Reuters shows.

Apple is fending off a raft of antitrust challenges around the globe and Match’s July filing adds to two other cases in India though Match is the first foreign company to mount such a challenge against the iPhone maker in the country.

Match notes in its filing that Indians prefer using a “state-backed online transfer system,” seemingly referring to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payment system promoted by the Indian Govt. that has swept the country in recent times.

The govt. has repeatedly shown how much it loves UPI, and if that’s any indication, Apple just might be in some trouble here.

Manish Singh, writing on Techcrunch:

Flipvolt Technologies, the India registered entity of Singapore-headquartered Vauld, was used to deposit 3.7 billion Indian rupees by 23 entities including non-banking financial companies and fintech firms into the wallets controlled by Yellow Tune Technologies, the Enforcement Directorate said Friday of its ongoing investigation.

The agency said the Indian entity of Vauld maintains “very lax KYC norms, no EDD mechanism, no check on the source of funds of the depositors, no mechanism of raising STRs, etc,” factors that led the accused firms in “avoiding regular banking channels” and “easily take out all the fraud money in the form of crypto assets.”

The Indian government has generally been against cryptocurrency, and cases like these are ensuring that doesn’t change for a long time.

ExpressVPN has just announced that they will be removing their physical servers located in India, refusing to comply with India’s new VPN law.

With a recent data law introduced in India requiring all VPN providers to store user information for at least five years, ExpressVPN has made the very straightforward decision to remove our Indian-based VPN servers.

Rest assured, our users will still be able to connect to VPN servers that will give them Indian IP addresses and allow them to access the internet as if they were located in India. These “virtual” India servers will instead be physically located in Singapore and the UK.

Under the new VPN law that is set to come into effect on Jun 27, 2022, the company states that they will be “required to store users’ real names, IP addresses assigned to them, usage patterns, and other identifying data” which effectively “is incompatible with the purpose of VPNs, which are designed to keep users’ online activity private.

The law is also overreaching and so broad as to open up the window for potential abuse. We believe the damage done by potential misuse of this kind of law far outweighs any benefit that lawmakers claim would come from it.

ExpressVPN refuses to participate in the Indian government’s attempts to limit internet freedom. As a company focused on protecting privacy and freedom of expression online, we will continue to fight to keep users connected to the open and free internet with privacy and security, no matter where they are located.

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN services in the market today and I had been a customer for a while, only switching to Mullvad because I wanted the flexibility in billing. I am certain that other VPN companies are going to follow in the same steps. Any company that doesn’t, is a company worth staying away from.

Apple India Hiring for a Number of Apple Retail Roles as it Prepares to Launch Apple Stores in Mumbai & New Delhi

Apple Store Launching Soon in India

Apple is inching close to launching the country’s first Apple Stores, with the first one opening soon in the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, followed closely by a second one opening in New Delhi. Apple India has been working on bringing its stores to Indian shores for a really long time now — as early as 2014 — and some of the recent developments indicate that the launch could happen very soon, as early as January 2022. The company already launched the Apple Online Store in India a little over a year ago.

The company has begun hiring for a number of roles in Apple Retail, such as Store Leader, Genius, Specialist, Technical Special, Senior Manager, Manager, Operations Expert, Market Leader, Expert, Creative, Business Pro, Business Expert, etc. All of these Apple Retail roles are available in Mumbai, Maharashtra as well as in New Delhi.

It’s important to note that for many of these roles, Apple is seeking individuals interested in working part-time or contractual-basis, in addition to full-time. The job listings indicate that candidates can even apply to work only for a few hours on weekends, giving a few hours every week towards the role.

It’ll be interesting to see what strategy the company chooses to follow in India, where its product-line has always been seen as “overpriced” and yet has seen an upward trend in adoption, especially iPhones. I’m also curiously excited to see what changes the company brings to its hardware repair & support experience, which is currently offered through third-party resellers and is generally considered disappointing.

[Featured Image by Andy Wang]

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.

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.

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.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs wants the Government to Ban VPN Services in India

According to a report by the Times of India, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has recommended that the Indian government “permanently block VPN Services in the country”.

The TOI report says,

Terming Virtual Private Network (VPN) services as a threat to counter cyber threats and other nefarious activities, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs reportedly wants the Indian government to ban VPN services in the country. As per a report by MediaNama, the committee explained that the reason why VPN services should be banned in India is because VPN apps and tools are easily available online and these allow “criminals to remain anonymous online.”

I’ll recommend that you go read the entire report to understand how ridiculous it all sounds.

But in an effort to put things into perspective, I rewrote the article by changing just a few words here and there.

Terming knives as a threat to counter deadly threats and other nefarious activities, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Kitchen Affairs reportedly wants the Indian government to ban knives in the country. As per a report by MediaNama, the committee explained that the reason why knives should be banned in India is because knives and tools are easily available online and these allow “criminals to attack and kill anyone.”

For those unaware, knives are used by most households in India to assist them in cooking and making food. Also, knives became all the more important during lockdown when employees were forced to work from home and thus also cook from home. While knives allow users to cut through things that aren’t actually food and also stay “protected” to a certain degree outside, the benefits of knives is immense for anyone when it comes to making food. The committee also proposed “to put a check on the use of knives and scissors.”

According to the report by MediaNama, the committee recommended permanently blocking knife sales in the country with “the help of e-commerce service providers” across India. ““The Committee notes with anxiety the challenge posed by knives and scissors, that can allow criminals to attack or kill anyone. As of date, knives can easily be purchased, as many websites are providing such facilities and advertising them. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry of Kitchen Affairs should coordinate with the Ministry of Hardware Tools to identify and permanently block such knives with the help of e-commerce service providers.”

It further suggested that “a coordination mechanism should also be developed with international agencies to ensure that these knives are blocked permanently.” The report by MediaNama also said that the committee wants “the Ministry to take initiatives to strengthen the tracking and surveillance mechanisms by further improving and developing the state-of-the-art technology, to put a check on the use of knives and scissors.”

I wish those in power actually had the power of logical thinking.