Despite so many distractions and challenges in the year 2021, the year remains eventful as a result of activities of big tech companies that have made it into the news. Some of these activities, the launch of new products and new technology have in a way shaped the rest of the year and will still shape the New Year 2022. We present some of the biggest news around.
Trump Faces Suspension from Social Media For Misleading The Public
For the first time in history, following ex-president of the United States Donald Trump social media post which resulted in the massive outburst of Trump’s rioters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. This incident has led to the immediate suspension of the president’s account by Twitter and Facebook. The social media platforms believe that Trump’s posts of claiming the American election result are not certain only enthuse his supporters to react deleteriously. The uprising at the United States Capitol escalated as Trump shared a video expressing his support to protesters agitating for the reversal of his loss to president-elect Joe Biden during the November election in 2020. Google’s YouTube also took the right step in suspending Trump’s account for 24 hours. Prior to the suspension, Google deleted Trump’s video that caused the menace at Washington from its video-sharing platform. Due to Trump loss at the November election to president-elect Joe Biden, he stretched the limits of his power on many occasions.
German Law Enforcement Shut Down Largest Global Darknet Marketplace
German law enforcement successfully executed the operation that took down a dark web marketplace, a webspace operating stealthily under the radar with different users from around the world transacting P2P business on anonymity. The police discovered that an Australian native orchestrated the illegal dark web platform they considered the world’s largest “darknet” marketplace. The “dark web” is that part of the web that can only be accessed with an authorization issued by the operator or with the use of sophisticated software that conceals the identity of its users. The part of the web was discovered to have concealed all kinds of high-priced marketable elements for trade, such as hard drugs, stolen credit cards data, malware, and stolen governments data and many more.
Tesla Invests $1.5b in Bitcoin, To Start Accepting It as a Payment Method
The decision by the biggest electric car maker in the world to invest $1.5b in Bitcoin and start accepting it as a form of payment could drive not just the price of the cryptocurrency but see more companies in the auto industry and otherwise to start investing in it and start accepting it as a mode of payment. This makes Tesla probably the first major manufacturer to start accepting Bitcoin. By investing in Bitcoin, Elon Musk has put his money where his mouth is and could see the price of Bitcoin rise even further as this gives credence to other investors who have either invested modestly or are torn between investing.
The Federal Government Indefinitely Suspends Twitter in Nigeria
The Nigerian government made a decision to indefinitely suspend Twitter operations in Nigeria following the removal of President Buhari’s seeming inciteful tweet on the social platform. The suspension was announced in a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed. The minister cited the reason for the suspension as the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence. The Minister said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria. Major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country started blocking the Twitter domain name, ever since Nigerians have had to rely on the use of VPN services to access the social platform.
Jeff Bezos Steps Down As Andy Jassy Becomes Amazon CEO
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos have stepped down his position while he transitioned to the Executive Chairman role while pledging his full support for Andy Jassy as he takes over the reins at Amazon. As a form of ushering Andy Jassy into his new role Amazon granted the incoming CEO 61,000 shares of stock valued at $214m. The day of transition into the new role was marked on the 5th of July, this date also corresponds with Amazon’s 27th incorporation anniversary, and is therefore a strategic date to celebrate the company. Andy Jazzy will step down from his role as CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to become the CEO of the entire company. He is one of the company’s most important and trusted executives in the company’s history, which explains why he was chosen as a replacement for Jeff Bezos in the first place.
Another tech company that witnessed a change in power is the popular Microblogging social platform- Twitter. Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal succeeded Jack Dorsey as Twitter CEO. This comes after months of rumours about his stay on the top job of the company he co-founded. Twitter CEO upon his return to the company in 2015 founded payment company, Square. Many questioned whether he would be able to handle both jobs as head of the two independent institutions. The microblogging site was valued at about $16b when he returned but has floated between $47b and $50b this year.
Apple Plans to Scan U.S. iPhones For Images Of Child Sexual Abuse
In 2021 Apple unveiled plans to scan U.S. iPhones for images of child sexual abuse, in the process earning accolades from several child protection groups while some security researchers, tech enthusiasts and competitors have raised serious concerns that the system may be misused by entities like governments for illegal surveillance. Many are not in support of Apple’s plan. Apple planned on using a tool called “neural Match” to scan images of child sexual abuse. If child pornography is suspected, a human review would be made and if confirmed, the user’s account will be disabled while the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notified.
Hackers Steal $600m In Major Cryptocurrency Hack – Biggest Cryptocurrency Thefts Ever
More than $600 million was reported stolen in what looks like one of the biggest cryptocurrency thefts ever. Hackers breached blockchain-based platform Poly Network. Poly Network is a decentralized finance (Defi) firm working on the interoperability of crypto coins, in other words, a platform that looks to connect different blockchains so that they can work together. These hackers have exploited the Poly Networks vulnerability and extracted more than $600 million in cryptocurrencies. The company took to Twitter to make this announcement, seeking to establish communication with the hackers, and urging them to “return the hacked assets.”
According to reports, the hackers began to send the loot to various other cryptocurrency addresses. PolyNetwork revealed that $267m of Ether, $252m of Binance coins, and roughly $85 million in USDC were taken out. Afterwards, the cryptocurrency platform offered the hacker or hackers a “bug bounty” of $500,000. The ethical hackers referred to as “white hat” pledged to send back the loot but made it clear they were not interested in the bounty reward. It’s still unclear what prompted the hacker to backtrack to return the stolen assets. Experts say it may be because they found it hard to launder and cash out a large amount of stolen crypto. Others suggest that the hacker was afraid of being exposed and prosecuted given that researchers discovered a trove of identifying info, including an email and IP address. More broadly, the bizarre series of events further illustrates the pitfalls involved with cryptocurrency, an unregulated domain where hacks and scams are rife.
Facebook Changes Company Name To Meta As It Plans Big On VR
On the 28th of October, Facebook announces a name change to “Meta.” The company explained that rebranding was part of the plan to continue to focus on its near future ambitions of developing the “metaverse,” a growing ambition beyond social media services that it has conquered. CEO Zuckerberg explains that the new name comes from the Greek word for “beyond,” the word symbolizes that there is always more to build. He also disclosed that over time the new name reflects that users will not have a need to make use of Facebook to utilize its other services.
The motive for the name change was given as a way to showcase the social media giant’s move to be at the forefront of building the metaverse, but there are increasing suspicions from various angles on the underlying motives of the name change. Many see it as a distraction or cover-up from its litany of controversies that seem to be the loudest ‘inclined’ suspicion. Facebook has reportedly been involved in a number of controversies this year and years before now. Facebook has since denied a number of these accusations, branding them as malicious and totally misleading.
Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram Suffer Worldwide Outage
A major outage affected all Mark Zuckerberg shared infrastructure apps, plunging the services and the businesses and people who rely on them into chaos for hours. For nearly six hours, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were completely inaccessible globally. During that timeframe, users reported the appearance of a server error whenever they tried to log in, indicating that Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, which have an estimated total of 4.6 billion users worldwide was battling technical issues. According to data released by Bloomberg, the social network giant lost about $7 billion as a result of the unexpected outage.
Apple Unveils iPhone 13
Apple officially announces the iPhone 13 lineup, the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Ma, phone models that have set the bar for the mobile device industry in 2021. The phone models boost of a faster A15 Bionic chip, three all-new cameras, and a super improved display with up to a 120Hz ProMotion high refresh rate display that can go as bright as 1,000 nits and storage of as much as 1TB. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max come in the same 6.1 and 6.7-inch display sizes as the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 13 “regular” model comes with the 6.1-inch display sizes while the iPhone 13 Mini comes in the smaller 5.4-inch display sizes. The new iPhone 13 line-up will also offer better battery life: the iPhone 13 Mini will get 1.5 hours more battery life than the iPhone 12 Mini, while the larger iPhone 13 should get up to 2.5 hours more battery life compared to the iPhone 12, thanks to bigger batteries, better performance from the A15 Bionic, and additional software improvements and optimizations.
Google Pixel 6 And Pixel 6 Pro Ready To Take On Apple And Samsung
Google introduces the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro with its distinctive design and powered by Google Tensor. The latest Pixel addition is Google’s first-ever processor that would come with an Android 12. These smartphones are fast, incredibly smart, and secure just for you. With the addition of Google-owned Tensor to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, users are exposed to a wide range of entirely new capabilities with their smartphones. Google Tensors is a chip designed specifically around Google’s AI and carries the latest advancements in Machine Learning at lower power consumption compared to previous Pixel phones.
However, a number of complaints surfaced concerning the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphones since their launch. One of these allegations that the tech giant has chosen to respond to is that the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro don’t charge as fast as some have expected. Google has confirmed that their slow charging speeds are a deliberate tradeoff for better battery life.
Also one of the biggest news with the search giant in 2021, was the release of the final version of the much anticipated Android 12. One of the most fantastic things to look out for in the new Android 12 is the ability to let you tweak the look of the home screen to your liking. Google introduces a feature that allows you to capture the entire content on a page in one screenshot. With this feature just because you reach the end of your screen doesn’t mean you need to reach the end of your screenshot. Game lovers are also not left out, you can jump straight into your game while you wait for game downloads. This feature on the new Android 12 assures that you spend more time playing your favourite games and less time waiting. The latest Android version is so packed, you can find out more about the coolest and most exciting features here.
Microsoft Announces Plan For 3D Metaverse Apps
At Microsoft’s Ignite 2021 conference, Microsoft reveals the company’s plans to bring gaming into the digital world of metaverse with Xbox. The new series of applications will incorporate gaming in a virtual environment. A statement by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discloses that “For years, we’ve talked about creating this digital representation of the world, but now, we actually have the opportunity to go into that world and participate in it. What’s most important is that we are able to bring our humanity with us, and choose how we want to experience this world and who we want to interact with.” Microsoft joins the likes of Meta to conquer more technology ground by breaking new records.
Also, in the year 2021witness the release of Windows 11 by Microsoft. Since its release, a number of restrictions have surfaced when it comes to running on some older hardware. In its latest updates by Microsoft, Windows 11 minimum system requirements now have older Intel CPUs included. This is to enhance more compatibility with Windows 11.
Nigeria’s eNaira Officially Launched By President Buhari
Nigeria’s apex bank launched Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), the eNaira. The “eNaira is a Central Bank of Nigeria-issued digital initiative which provides a unique and different form of money denominated in Naira. The eNaira will serve as a medium of exchange and also store value. It is aimed that it will offer better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments. The digital currency was officially launched by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja. The highly anticipated digital currency was initially scheduled for launch on Nigeria’s Independence Day on October 1st but was postponed for undisclosed reasons.
In an aftermath of barely 48hrs after launch, the eNaira speed wallet was reported to have disappeared from the Google Play Store. This development came after over 100,000 users had gone ahead to download the eNaira app amid negative reviews and low ratings. The eNaira has since returned seem to be doing just fine. According to statistics, which was obtained from the apex bank obtained by a popular online news source indicated that as of December 12th, over 34,000 transactions amounting to over N188 million has been recorded to have taken place using eNaira. The CBN said these statistics has definitely shown that the adoption of eNaira had been excellent.
Intel CEO Warns Chip Shortage Won’t End Until At Least 2023
This year the global tech industry witnessed a chip shortage. The problem isn’t just a shortage of chips problem particularly, but rather it’s a problem that has been caused as a result of shortage combinations of parts that has led to a lack of adequate parts to go around. Intel one of the world biggest providers of chips has said that the ongoing global chip shortage may persist for a lot longer than anticipated, it the shortage may persist as far as 2023. Intel isn’t making sufficient processor chips to take care of demand. The chip shortage has been ongoing for some time but the reason it’s making headlines was that as the holiday season approaches PC sales are expected to jump but due to chip shortage sales may drop by a certain percentage.
Unsatisfied with the reliance on standard high-demand chips that’s quite scarce, some of the world’s leading tech firms are forced into developing their own semiconductors. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Tesla, and Baidu are already bringing home and investing in some aspects of chip development while avoiding established chip firms.
Richard Branson Beats Jeff Bezos in the Flight to Space
Billionaire and UK entrepreneur Richard Branson successfully launched Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane into the edge of space. The entrepreneur made it clear he wanted to evaluate the experience first before allowing paying customers aboard next year. He was accompanied on this mission by the vehicle’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees – Beth Moses, Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla. His presence on the test flight raised global interest and reflected his utmost confidence in his enterprise. After the flight, Branson received several congratulations including from space rival Jeff Bezos. Bezos sent a congratulatory message to Branson and his team for a successful flight to space and ended with a “Can’t wait to join the club!” remark.
Later in the year, Billionaire businessman, Jeff Bezos also expressed his excitement in the takeoff of his company’s Blue Origin maiden suborbital space flight together with his brother and two other people. Jeff Bezos and his brother, Mark came back from the short trip of 11 mints to space — onboard New Shepherd, the space vehicle built by his space company Blue Origin.
Jeff Bezos Offers NASA $2 billion In the Race to the Moon
The world’s richest man Jeff Bezos in an open letter has appealed to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. In the open letter, he discusses plans to discount NASA up to $2 billion in a bid to build the vehicle that will land the next astronauts on the moon. This comes a few months after NASA chose SpaceX over Blue Origin for a $2.9 billion contract to build the vehicle that will land the next astronauts on the moon. In an aftermath of NASA not responding to his open letter, Jeff Bezos sues NASA against the contract of SpaceX and the lunar lander project.