This week’s news: iPhone, Groupon, Medium and more

Welcome to the new edition of “This week’s news”, a selection of links to interesting articles and news from the worlds of blogs, commerce and e-commerce.

+++

Apple has presented two new iPhones – the 5S and a little bit cheaper model made out of plastic, the 5C. The main feature-addition is a fingerprint scanner that is able to recognize the user with a quick scan of his or her fingerprint. For now, the fingerprints are stored on the phone and can’t be used by 3rd parties, thus won’t be available for websites or apps as an authentication tool. For now. That will likely change in the future and open up possibilities for online retailers to implement frictionless payment methods, as described by Businessweek. Another improvement relevant for the retail industry is a new iOS 7 feature called iBeacon, which lets the phone communicate with sensors nearby. One obvious use case would be to let stores enable coupons or mobile payments when customers with an iPhone walk in.

+++

Groupon has news again: The coupon giant has acquired the last-minute hotel-booking app Blink, making clear it does want to keep diversifying its business.

In other, a bit more entertaining Groupon news, the company’s Indian website recently offered a discount on onions – which apparently is a very popular vegetable in the country: The demand was so high that the Website went offline for a while. Within 44 minutes, 3,000 kilograms of onions were purchased.

+++

At the end of last week, a rumour appeared saying that Amazon would launch its own smartphone and providing it to people for free! Even if nothing seems to be impossible in the world of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, that story turned out to be incorrect – at least according to a statement issued by the company explaining that if it would offer its own smartphone, it would not give it away for free.

+++

Meanwhile, PayPal continues its foray into the retail sector, testing a hardware gadget for retailers that would auto-recognize when customers walk into the store, letting them pay via their PayPal accounts without having to pull out their phones or wallets.

+++

A little more than a year ago, the Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone launched the blogging platform Medium, focusing on longform writing. While the site that gives publishing rights only to selected users has caught the attention of many bloggers and tech pundits, questions about monetization and the status of the site (platform or publication) still wait for answers.