Businesses may soon be able to chat with you over WhatsApp, according to report

WhatsApp may soon allow businesses to chat directly with users. The popular messaging service is reportedly testing the new feature with companies affiliated with startup incubator Y Combinator, according to Reuters.

If successful, courting businesses could provide WhatsApp with a sorely needed revenue stream. Since being acquired by Facebook in 2014, the service has eliminated its one, dependable source of income — an annual $1 subscription fee for all users — and failed to introduce any alternatives.

Shortly after retiring the fee, WhatsApp expressed interest in leveraging its billion users to attract corporate clients to the service. Facebook Messenger provides a good example of the direction WhatsApp appears to be heading. The competing communications app has long been promoted as a way to connect businesses with people for purposes beyond advertising, citing customer service as a primary goal. WhatsApp hopes to follow suit in this regard, and make the feature as beneficial to users as it would be to businesses. For example, retailers could use the app to relay a shipment tracking updates, and banks could use it to notify customers about fraudulent charges.

The company doesn’t expect to get there overnight, however. WhatsApp is wary of the new business-focused tools being abused as a conduit for spam. According to the report, the company is distributing surveys to its users, asking them if they’ve spoken with businesses yet and whether or not the quality of their experience on the service has suffered because of it.

Businesses, however, appear far more optimistic. Umer Ilyas, the founder of Cowlar Inc., one of the startups involved in the testing phase, told Reuters that communication over WhatsApp could be a huge boon to his company. Cowlar makes smart collars for cows that monitor their behavior, offering actionable data to dairy farmers.

“It represents a huge opportunity,” Ilyas said, “because in all the big dairy markets — India, Brazil, Pakistan — a lot of farmers have access to the app.

India and Brazil are two territories in which WhatsApp is most successful, so it’s no coincidence the company is angling toward a plan that could be particularly effective in the regions in which it already dominates market share among communication apps.

Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.

Apple’s rumored magazine subscription service could also launch on Macs

Apple is widely expected to debut its new Apple News magazine subscription service at a media event scheduled for March 25. Now, through code leaks, it's also believed that users will be able to read magazines on their Macs.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!

iPad Air vs. iPad Mini: Which new tablet from Apple is best for you?

Apple has unveiled two new iPad models, including a new iPad Air and a new iPad Mini. Both devices have a lot to offer. But which iPad is right for your needs? We put the iPad Air and iPad Mini to the test to find out.

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…

Even older Apple Watches could be effective at spotting heart conditions

The Apple Watch Series 4 is known for detecting heart conditions like atrial fibrillation thanks to having an electrocardiograph feature. It turns out that older Apple Watches could be effective at tracking AFib, too.

The Black Shark 2’s Ludicrous Mode promises the smoothest mobile gaming

Xiaomi-backed Black Shark has a follow-up to last year's Black Shark gaming phone, complete with high specs and a low price. Here's everything we know about the Black Shark 2 gaming phone.

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for March 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for March 2018.

Amazon drops price on Apple Watch Series 4 with a rare deal

Since Apple first unveiled the Series 4, the price for one has pretty much held fast. This has finally started to change with a nice little $15 discount on Amazon. If you've been wanting the newest Apple Watch, now is a great time.

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.

Google's midrange Pixels might be called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs brings 3D demolition into your living room

Angry Birds is releasing its next entry in the spring of 2019 - with a new spin. Bringing 3D environments and destruction, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs uses augmented reality to add a new dimension to a classic series.

Whether by the pool or the sea, make a splash with the best waterproof phones

Whether you're looking for a phone you can use in the bath, or you just want that extra peace of mind, waterproof phones are here and they're amazing. Check out our selection of the best ones you can buy.