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Weekly Bytes | More secure WhatsApp backups, Clubhouse feature for musicians, and more

A 3D printed WhatsApp logo and a padlock are placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration picture.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

More secure WhatsApp backups

WhatsApp has introduced end-to-end encryption on chat backups. The new security feature will be available to both Android and iOS users to protect their saved chats. It’s an optional feature, which can be enabled to add an extra layer of security to backups stored on Google Drive and iCloud. These end-to-end encrypted backups can be secured with a password or a 64-digit encryption key, the Facebook-owned company said, adding that neither WhatsApp nor the backup service provider will be able to read chat backups or access the key required to unlock it. The feature will be rolled out to users with the latest version of the app, according to WhatsApp. Users can access the feature under ‘Chat Backup’ in settings. They can select the option and follow the on-screen prompts to create a password or key. Users will not be able to restore their backup if they forget their password or key, the firm said. “WhatsApp can’t reset your password or restore your backup for you.” This week, Facebook also said it has made changes to the way user accounts are counted for advertisement measurements on the platform.

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Clubhouse adds feature for musicians

Social audio app Clubhouse has introduced a new audio quality option for musicians. The music mode can help musicians when they are performing on the platform. It optimises Clubhouse to broadcast their music with “high quality and great stereo sound”. Musicians will also be able to use professional audio equipment for their performance, like external USB microphones or mixing boards, Clubhouse noted. And, with stereo support for Clips, shared music from performers (using music mode) would also sound better. Besides, Clubhouse has improved the universal search feature on the platform and moved the search bar to the top of the main screen (hallway). The new features will roll out for iOS users and will be available on Android soon, Clubhouse said. Recently, Clubhouse had introduced ‘spatial audio’ technology to enhance the listening experience on its platform. Earlier this month, Clubhouse introduced the ability to record and replay conversations and also download 30-second clips to share on social media or other sites.

Virgin Galactic delays commercial service to 2022

Virgin Galactic has postponed its commercial spaceflights to next year. The service is now expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022, the company said. The spaceflight firm noted that it will start its “planned enhancement” programme that is designed to improve vehicle performance and flight-rate capability for VMS Eve and VSS Unity. It also stated that a recent laboratory-based test “flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints.” Although this new lab test data has had no impact on the vehicles, the company said. After the enhancement, it plans to complete the vehicle testing programme for the carrier mothership and the spacecraft, including the planned research test flight with the Italian Air Force, before starting commercial flights. This scheduled update is unrelated to the company’s recent inquiry into a potential defect in a supplier component, Virgin Galactic clarified. In another space update, actor William Shatner, 90, who played the iconic Star Trek character Captain James T. Kirk, became the oldest person to fly into space on Wednesday morning.

IBM’s AI-driven software for environmental intelligence

IBM has announced a suite of environmental intelligence software to help organisations anticipate and respond to climate risks, like flooding and wildfires. It can provide insights to help improve resiliency and meet sustainability goals. The suite brings together AI, weather data, climate risk analytics, and carbon accounting capabilities, enabling organisations to curate this data more easily. The SaaS solution can help companies monitor for disruptive environmental conditions; predict potential impacts of climate change and weather across the business; gain insights into potential operational disruptions and prioritise mitigation and response efforts; measure and report on environmental initiatives and operationalise carbon accounting, according to the firm. The suite also takes advantage of a new climate risk modelling framework used to generate data on future wildfire and flooding risks. In a separate development, Google will tell its cloud customers the carbon emissions of their cloud usage and open satellite imagery to them for the first time for environmental analysis.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 7:12:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/weekly-bytes-more-secure-whatsapp-backups-clubhouse-feature-for-musicians-and-more/article37020148.ece

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