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December 10, 2020

🌊 Good morning! We're talking S21 leaks, Facebook in hot water, whales in quiet water, and SpaceX making waves down in Texas.

My colleagues at Android Authority have a big leak, with Samsung’s largest store in India happily confirming the Samsung Galaxy S21 series will launch on January 14, with availability one week later, plus already opening a pre-booking payment of roughly $27 to secure a pre-order. 

Yes, that is some kind of pre-pre-order, but it’s casually live in India for some reason, and we have the details!

The Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra were all confirmed by the regional Samsung store, along with colorways for all three models:

  • The Galaxy S21 will be available in gray, pink, purple, and white colorways. 
  • The S21 Plus will launch in pink, purple, silver, and black. 
  • And, the top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will come in black and silver colorways. 
  • We’ve already seen renders and teasers showing the phones in some of these colors showing the new two-tone design in these colors:

What’s next: The main gap in what we know now is pricing. Based on the current rate of leaks, we’ll know within a week what Samsung’s plans may be.

The Facebook antitrust suit happened
An image of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg giving a public talk.

It’s been rumored since last week, and now the FTC, in coalition with 48 attorneys general, has sued Facebook. 

  • The two complaints (one from the FTC at 53 pages long, one from the states at 123 pages) focuses on a petition to “undo and prevent [Facebook’s] anticompetitive conduct and unfair methods of competition alleging Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions were used to stifle competition.”
  • “Personal social networking is central to the lives of millions of Americans,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Facebook’s actions to entrench and maintain its monopoly deny consumers the benefits of competition. Our aim is to roll back Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition so that innovation and free competition can thrive.”
  • The focus on Instagram (acquired in 2012) and WhatsApp (acquired in 2014) is remarkable.
  • Facebook says, in early response, “Years after the FTC cleared our acquisitions, the government now wants a do-over with no regard for the impact that precedent would have on the broader business community or the people who choose our products every day.”
  • What’s likely: a years-long lawsuit, and I can’t really guess the outcome. Normally, you’d bet on the government’s deep pockets, but Facebook is basically a nation-state, too.
  • More: The FTC is suing Facebook to unwind its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp (The Verge).

🚀 SpaceX Starship serial number 8 (SN8) lifted off from Texas yesterday, and performed an exciting set of maneuvers (YouTube) including successful ascent up to 40,00ft, landing flip with flap control, and, oops, a slightly too-rapid and explosive landing due to “low pressure in the fuel header tank during the landing burn.” (Btw, that video is timestamped for right before lift-off, and the whole event lasts just under 7 minutes.)

🎉 Elon Musk was happy to celebrate the successes, noting that the team captured all the data it needs for this low-cost reusable rocket aiming towards Mars (Twitter). 

📲 Redmi interview: talking faster charging speeds, small phones, and in-display fingerprint tech in LCD screens being too expensive, for now (Android Authority).

🥼 Google has a new Android app that lets you contribute to health research in the US, and very very much opt-in only (

📺 Samsung announces massive 110-inch 4K TV with next-gen MicroLED picture quality, with 99.99 percent screen-to-body ratio. A preview of the kinds of things we’ll see at CES 2021? (No price tag yet) (The Verge).

🍎 WhatsApp is taking on Apple over privacy label requirements, because Apple’s own apps don’t have the necessary nutrition-style labels for its apps not on the App Store (Axios).

🔫 Cyberpunk 2077 preload on consoles includes the Day 0 update (u). People have been playing since midnight and uh, well, it looks a little off on console but expect patches quick-smart (Kotaku). Here are some tips before you start (without spoilers), too (Polygon).

🐕 Hyundai has purchased Boston Dynamics for almost $1Bn. If the Spot dog robot gets a Hyundai car badge on it, it’ll really be something (CNET).

🤖 “Cruise says it’s started driverless testing—I’m skeptical” (Ars Technica).

😬 Google CEO Sundar Pichai sorry for Timnit Gebru controversy and will investigate what happened (Axios) . Not obviously sorry for her firing, as Dr. Gebru herself points out (Twitter).

💉 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine docs hacked from European Medicines Agency (BBC).

🐳 The pandemic turned the volume down on ocean noise pollution, and whales seem to be loving the quiet (The Verge).

📚 Here are five books recommended by Bill Gates for your holidays. They’re all deeper dives, none too light, but Range by David Epstein is great (GatesNotes).

👨‍🚀 Artemis: NASA has named 18 astronauts as part of program that aims to return Americans to the moon by 2024. Men, women, some veterans of spaceflight, and a few that haven’t been to space yet (NASA).

🤔 “If social media was around in your childhood, what embarrassing moment would you be famous for?” (r/askreddit).

Throwback Thursday

On December 9, 1968, the “mother of all demos” happened. Douglas Engelbart, a shy engineer organized a room of 1,000 in San Francisco at a conference, and stunned the world. 

  • Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse and the GUI, showed off the “precursor to every technology presentation that’s happened since—and arguably more ambitious than any of them,” as remembered by Smithsonian Magazine (which puts the date as December 8, 1968.)
  • He “introduced word processing, document sharing, version control and hyperlinks, and he’d integrated text, graphics and video conferencing,” and copy and paste, and hinted at the Internet, then in its infancy as ARPANET.
  • It’s remarkable. It’s sometimes hard to get excited about early pioneers, where you can’t watch them on YouTube, and there’s no flashy 4K presentation.
  • But this is one of the most pivotal moments in early computing, from one of the two people responsible for creating the mouse (in the image above).
  • As for why it was called the mouse, Engelbert apologized for the name, and would often comment that it wasn’t intended, but then the name stuck.


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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