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Winners & Losers: Pixel rumours peak while WhatsApp struggles to catch a break

Between Samsung launching the Note 10, all the Pixel 4 rumours and Huawei’s new OS, it’s been a great week for smartphones. The same can’t really be said for the apps they run, though.

WhatsApp, in particular, has really been through it this week. The instant messaging app has been exposed for neglecting to act on bugs, found out its main feature won’t be supported in iOS 13 and – on top of all of that – given a nasty new reputation. If you didn’t already know that the not-so-trustworthy Facebook was behind the popular messaging app, well, now you do.

Amid all of that, it seems as though WhatsApp truly can’t catch a break.

Meanwhile, after selling record numbers of Pixel 3 handsets, Google has enjoyed significant hype around the incoming Pixel 4 and now made environmentalists happy by pledging to stop killing the earth (sort of).

Not even two of its competitors teaming up on its own operating system can keep it down.

Winner: Google for continuing to lead the game with Pixel rumours despite Samsung’s Note 10 launch

Google was our winner last week for managing to shift more Pixel 3 units than ever and it looks as though it’s only up from here for the search giant.

It took us one day to move past Samsung’s latest launch and get caught up in Pixel 4 rumours – and for good reason. Google’s Pixel phones have some of the best smartphone sensors out there and with a redesign coming to the rear on the phone, it’ll be interesting to see if Google can reclaim its crown as a top picture snapper.

One reason, the Pixel 3 was so attractive next to competing flagships – think Apple’s iPhone or the Samsung Note – was simply because the phone had all the features it needed at a much more affordable price. The Pixel 3a alone is half the cost of the Note 10, and with such a huge hype surrounding the Pixel 4, there’s no wonder people are already moving past Samsung’s latest offering to the smartphone world.

On top of this, Google has soaked up a lot of praise this week after it pledged to transition into more sustainable hardware over the next few years. The company promised to make its consumer devices carbon-neutral by 2020 as well as to incorporate some recycled materials into all of its products by 2022.

While this is a nice step forward, Google is still miles behind Apple when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint. Evidently, saving the world one Pixel at a time will take a little longer than we’d like, but the move is just another feather in Google’s cap this week.

Loser: WhatsApp from Facebook. For being Facebook.

Facebook picked a bad week to plaster its name all over the popular messaging app. The most recent scandal surrounding WhatsApp involves a pretty significant security flaw that could let hackers send messages imitating users through their own accounts.

Israel-based security company Check Point Research spoke about the issue at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas this week. The bug – which allows anyone to break into your account and alter the contents of a message under your name – was revealed to WhatsApp last year but the company decided to brush the problem under the rug after deciding that it was an essential part of the app’s design.

Thanks to WhatsApp’s design, hackers could send a private message disguised as a public message to a group participant so that, when they reply, that private response is broadcast to the whole chat, use the quote message option to change the name of the sender, or even straight up change the content of a reply so it looks as though the WhatsApp user has said something they definitely haven’t.

While WhatsApp has since disabled the first option, the company ultimately made the decision to leave over a billion users open to attack.

This isn’t the only time WhatsApp has faced criticism this week. The instant messaging app and its parent company have also been targeted by Apple with the release of iOS 13. The iPhone manufacturer is expected to implement major clampdowns on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) tech running in the background of apps in iOS 13.

This could spell trouble for WhatsApp, as WhatsApp and its parent company both rely heavily on VOIP to handle calls. If Apple chooses to go through with this new policy, WhatsApp is going to have to undergo a major redesign, including a total overhaul of how it handles end-to-end encryption within the app.

The main reason Apple would want to push these restrictions would be to quell privacy concerns. To be fair, WhatsApp could probably use some help in that department after its parent company forced it to rebrand itself from the already well-established WhatsApp to WhatsApp from Facebook earlier this week. WhatsApp began the week forced to take on Facebook’s notorious reputation and already seems to have managed to live up to the name.

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