Samsung drops a surprise while Whatsapp delivers an ultimatum

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It might be the first week of 2021, but there has certainly been no shortage of tech-related stories to dive into. Here we are again with the first Winners and Losers segment of the year.

I’m starting to notice a trend here. January 2020 started out with the threat of World War Three, and things aren’t looking much better at the start of 2021 either. Still, if you had the ability to block out world events (or a decent pair of noise cancelling headphones), then you might have noticed that this has been a rather jam-packed week for tech.

Aside from the fact that we’re awaiting a flurry of tech announcements to appear as part of CES 2021, two major stories broke regarding Samsung and WhatsApp – both with very different tones – that we just couldn’t ignore for this week’s Winners and Losers.

Galaxy S21 teaser leak

Winner: Samsung fans

For the longest time, Samsung – much like Apple – has carved out a specific time of the year to announce its latest smartphones, earbuds and whatever extra tech it might be pushing. Traditionally, these announcements have fallen on a February, with the devices coming to market just a month later. For 2021 however, it’s a different ballgame entirely.

Samsung fans were in for a surprise earlier this week as the company’s official Twitter account broke the news that the suspected line of Galaxy S21 phones would be unveiled on January 14. With such an early announcement, there’s a good chance that Samsung’s fanbase could have the latest Galaxy phones as early as February.

As if that wasn’t enough, the earlier-than-usual Samsung Unpacked event is likely to star the rumoured Samsung Galaxy SmartTag – a Bluetooth tracker to compete with the likes of Tile. There’s also a chance that we could see an appearance from the leaked Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, which should help Samsung to reclaim some of the audio clout its lost in recent years to Apple.

With plenty of surprises in store, the general sentiment right now is that it’s a good time to be a Samsung fan. It’ll be a long time until we see a successor to the iPhone 12, so Samsung has every opportunity to dominate the conversation until that day comes.

Loser: WhatsApp users

Oh Facebook. Why is it that everything the social media giant touches turns into a great big mess? Oh yeah, that’s right… because it’s Facebook. Last year, Oculus users got a nasty surprise when Facebook announced that it would be compulsory to sign in with your Facebook account if you ever want to use an Oculus headset again, and now the company’s only gone and done it again with another one of its services.

This time it’s WhatsApp that’s been caught in the crossfire, everyone’s favourite messaging app that I’d honestly forgotten Facebook owned until it started poking a screwdriver around earlier this week. If users want to continue using the service then they’ll have to agree to new terms which allow Facebook to source data from WhatsApp, and vice versa.

Compliance is mandatory (of course), and you’ll lose access to app if you decide not to go along with the new terms. Those terms however appear to fly in the face of the end-to-end security that made WhatsApp so appealing in the first place.

The irony is that I know a fair number of people who migrated from Facebook Messenger some years back because WhatsApp presented a more trustworthy alternative. Well, it seems as though the glory days are behind us – Lord Zuckerberg has spoken.





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