WhatsApp Launches New App for Small Businesses

From The Verge: WhatsApp has launched a separate app designed for use by small businesses to more easily connect with customers. WhatsApp Business adds key features like dedicated business profiles for details like email address, business description, store addresses, and website; smart messaging tools like greetings, quick replies, and away messages; and metrics for how many messages were sent, delivered, and read.

Amazon Echo devices are headed to Australia and New Zealand in February

From The Verge: Amazon’s Echo devices will be released in Australia and New Zealand in early February. Customers can preorder an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus online from today and the devices are expected to ship early next month. The devices will also be available to buy directly from major retailers in early February. The Amazon Echo is A$119 ($95), the Echo Dot is A$49 ($39), and the Echo Plus is A$199 ($160).

Intel: Spectre Patch Reboot Issue Affects Newer Chips, Too

From PC Mag: The reboot problem affecting Spectre/Meltdown-patched systems is more widespread than initially thought, Intel announced Wednesday.

Last week, Intel revealed that "a few customers" have experienced higher-than-usual system reboots after applying the firmware updates. At that time, Navin Shenoy, Intel's Data Center Group EVP and General Manager, said the problem hit firmware updated systems running Intel's older Broadwell and Haswell CPUs. Now we know the problem affects newer chips as well.

Nintendo Switch tops US gaming systems for holiday shoppers

From CNET: According to NPD Group, which tracks US video game sales, 1.5 million Nintendo Switch systems were purchased during December -- more than any other video game system. With more than 4.8 million systems sold in the 10 months since its release, the Switch is the fastest-selling home console in US history.

Microsoft brings 15-inch Surface Book 2 to 17 more countries

From The Verge: Microsoft first launched its new 13- and 15-inch Surface Book 2 laptops back in November, but the larger model has only been available in the US so far. Starting today, the 15-inch Surface Book 2 will be available in 17 new countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Facebook to Simplify Messenger

From PC Mag: In a Tuesday blog post, Facebook Messenger Head Davis Marcus admitted that the app has "become too cluttered" as of late.

"Over the last two years, we built a lot of capabilities to find the features that continue to set us apart. A lot of them have found their product market fit; some haven't," he wrote. "Expect to see us invest in massively simplifying and streamlining Messenger this year."

OnePlus disables credit card payment after fraud reports

From CNET: The OnePlus 5T is one of the best phones you can buy today -- but for now, you can't buy it with a credit card.

Following customer complaints about fraudulent activity on their credit card after using it on the company's site, OnePlus is disabling credit as a payment form. OnePlus' online store is the only official place to buy its phones.

Tencent and Apple Make Peace over Tipping in WeChat

From PC Mag: It's time for more tipping with Tencent—again. Apple and Tencent have reached a deal over tipping on WeChat, a super-popular social media app that allows users to send each other monetary donations, or tips, for content they enjoy.

To put it another way, WeChat's tipping feature is like attaching a bank account to a "Like" button. You don't have to tip anything on WeChat if you don't want to, but the feature allows some content authors to make a not-so-insignificant amount of money for popular content they create.

OnePlus is investigating reports of customers’ payment information being stolen

From The Verge: OnePlus is investigating reports of customers’ credit card details being stolen after they bought goods from the smartphone maker online. The investigation began after a poll posted by users on OnePlus’ forums found that many customers had experienced the same problem. In the poll, 174 respondents said they had discovered fraudulent transactions on their cards after making a purchase from OnePlus. One customer who bought a OnePlus 5T wrote that he was alerted by the bank as someone tried to make an unauthorized purchase at Walmart worth $790.

Lyft grows gangbusters in 2017, bringing competition to Uber

From CNET: Lyft went from Uber's smaller and less-familiar rival to solid competitor in the US last year.

Growing at a rapid rate, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company provided passengers with 375.5 million trips in 2017. The increase marked a 130 percent rise in the number of rides from the previous year.

The jump coincided with an approximate doubling of both passengers and drivers. Lyft released these numbers Tuesday in its annual Economic Impact Report.

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