João Tomé, writing on the Cloudflare blog:

The latest Internet outage, in the South Pacific country of Tonga (with 169 islands), is still ongoing. It started with the large eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai, an uninhabited volcanic island of the Tongan archipelago on Friday, January 14, 2022. The next day, Cloudflare Radar shows that the Internet outage started at around 03:00 UTC (16:00 local time) — Saturday, January 15, 2022 — and is ongoing for more than four days. Tonga’s 105,000 residents are almost entirely unreachable, according to the BBC.

James Vincent, writing for The Verge:

Like many island nations, Tonga relies on just a single undersea cable, about the thickness of a garden hose and filled with fragile fiber-optic filaments, to get citizens online. But on Tuesday, the government of Tonga said “communications both international and domestic were severed due to damage sustained by the submarine cable.”

According to the BBC, repairs coule take upto two weeks.

“It could take up to two weeks to get it repaired. The nearest cable-laying vessel is in Port Moresby,” he added, referring to the Papua New Guinea capital, more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) from Tonga.

Tom Warren, writing on The Verge:

Microsoft is acquiring Activision, the troubled publisher of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Diablo. The deal will value Activision at $68.7 billion, far in excess of the $26 billion Microsoft paid to acquire LinkedIn in 2016. It’s Microsoft’s biggest push into gaming, and the company says it will be the “third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony” once the deal closes.

One has to wonder how Microsoft plans to deal with all the issues & controversies that have plagued Activision Blizzard in recent times.

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]

I spent a good 30 seconds just flipping back and forth between home screens, admiring the fluidity of the ProMotion transition. Tapping an icon for the UI view to expand up and out of the app icon is noticeably beautiful. Sliding messages or emails in and out is slick and efficient. That entire app pile-in each time you unlock your iPhone has never looked so fancy.

Give me half an iPhone of a pre-ProMotion display and a current ProMotion display and I’d be able to tell them apart in under a second. The difference is incredible and I will never, ever be able to go back.

My iPhone 13 Pro is still about three weeks away from delivery, and there’s two things that I’m increasingly excited about — ProMotion and the new cameras. I’m jumping from the iPhone XS Max, so there are a lot things that’ll be “new” for me, but the more I read about ProMotion and the new cameras, the more I wish I should’ve just bought the phone from a local store. The wait’s killing me.

Make sure you check out the amazing photos on Josh’s Instagram account as well.

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.