What’s new in tech
Amazon’s checkout-free market
Amazon opened its first checkout-less market in downtown Seattle this week, said Nick Wingfield in The New York Times. At Amazon Go, “the future hits you at the door.” A row of gates resembling subway station turnstiles guards the entrance, “allowing in only people with the store’s smartphone app.” There are no cashiers, registers, or carts. Shoppers simply walk the aisles, which are “packed with shelves of food,” place items in a shopping bag, and leave. Hundreds of cameras throughout the store record and identify the items you have selected, and as you walk out the door, your Amazon account is automatically charged. Walking out “feels like—there’s no other way to put it—shoplifting.” Only when your receipt arrives via email a few minutes later does “the feeling go away.”
WhatsApp launches small-biz app
“WhatsApp has launched a separate app designed for use by small businesses to more easily connect with customers,” said Thuy Ong in TheVerge.com. WhatsApp Business includes “dedicated business profiles” that feature contact details for small firms and offers “smart messaging tools” such as greetings, quick replies, and away messages. It also gives business owners access to metrics to track “how many messages were sent, delivered, and read.” Business and personal WhatsApp accounts can be used on the same device but registered with separate numbers. If users find the service intrusive, they can block numbers or report them as spam. WhatsApp Business is available initially as an Android-only app. There is no word yet of a planned iOS release.
Google devices interfering with routers
“Google Home and Chromecast devices are reportedly killing peoples’ Wi-Fi,” said Alex Cranz in Gizmodo.com. The Google devices appear to be “waking up” from sleep mode “and then sending way too much data at once to the routers, causing them to crash.” The problem initially appeared to be confined to Google Home Max speakers and the TP-Link Archer C7 router, but reports of the issue have spread to include other Google devices and TP-Link routers. In a post last week on its support page, Google inferred the issue was limited to Android phone users and added that a patch was now available via the Play Store. The post also suggested that “in the meantime, try rebooting your Android phone, and check that your Wi-Fi router is running the most recent firmware version.”