Winners and losers of the week: Apple outlaws the metaverse, Sony’s quiet cans

The tech world is revving up again for another fall release window. The last seven days were hectic for those of us in the industry, but not everyone emerged from the chaos as winners. We’ve dissected everything that happened to bring you our winners and losers of the technosphere this week.

Picking a winner and loser of the week is not always easy. There were plenty of candidates this week that could have easily taken home the unfortunate prize of being the loser of the week. Trump is still squabbling with Chinese-owed social media app TikTok, and this week issued executive orders aimed at banning both TikTok and WeChat – China’s answer to WhatsApp. We’ll have to wait and see if Microsoft can acquire the American side of TikTok’s business in time, but we’re waiting to see how this one plays out before deciding where these parities fall on our winner/loser scale.

It was a mixed week for Samsung this week. The South Korean manufacturer wowed the world with its Galaxy Z Fold 2 – which does look like a huge improvement over the troubled first version – and its new Galaxy Buds Live are genuinely interesting and unique-looking. But the Galaxy Note 20, a plastic smartphone with a spec sheet that wouldn’t look out of place for a $400 device these days, starts at a whopping $999. Yeah, that’s a pass for me.

NextPit samsung galaxy note 20 note 20 ultra comparison camera module cf1
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 smartphones were launched this week. / © NextPit

The Galaxy Unpacked event itself was pretty cringe-worthy, and far from the slick WWDC effort we saw from Apple, but there was some genuine buzz both before and during the event surrounding the new TWS headphones and the foldable phone and in both these areas Samsung is pressing forward with more ambition for innovation than any other manufacturer out there.

In the case of Samsung this week, we’ll settle for a draw.

Winner of the week: Sony is not giving up its ANC crown soon

There was exciting news for fans of Sony’s popular over-ear headphones with active noise cancellation on Thursday this week. Two years after the WH-1000XM3 landed on the market, the Japanese manufacturer lifted the lid on the WH-1000XM4.

From any distance, the new wireless headphones look identical to their predecessor, but Sony has added some practical new features to its flagship ANC cans more usable in a whole variety of daily situations. Early reviews suggest that the noise-canceling has gotten even better, too.

As far as launches go, this is about as smooth as you could hope for. The WH-1000XM4 are expensive at $350, but these will still sell well over the next two to three years. For showing us how to drop a great product without the fireworks, fuss, and furore, Sony is our winner of the week.

Loser of the week: Cloud gamers on iOS

An almighty spat between Microsft and Apple broke out this week. The result: gamers on iOS will not be able to play the xCloud cloud gaming platform, or any other cloud gaming service for that matter.

Apple’s controversial App Store policies have lead to Microsoft scrapping its planned iOS support for xCloud. A test phase had already begun, but that’s now dead and buried. Following the announcement, the two companies have been throwing mud at each in the public eye. Apple was the first to fire:

Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search.

So the defense from Apple is, as always, the same broken record. Our policies are our policies, and this thing breaks them. Which of course, nobody contests. The question Apple fails to answer each time – even when appearing before Congress – is why the policies have been designed the way they have. Microsoft responded to the response:

Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content. Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store.

And so back to awarding our loser of the week. The real losers of this saga are iOS gamers. Apple is blocking its own customers from enjoying a service because it does not get a big enough slice of the pie.

Who were your winners and losers of the week just gone? Share your thoughts below the line.