Pay Parking Tickets From Your Smartphone

Ticket Zen, the app from the dubiously named Terrible Labs, has hooked up with PayByPhone’s municipal parking payment service. Techcrunch.com says now you can scan the bar code on the ticket with the Android or iPhone app, and pay a parking ticket instantly.

Samsung is dropping a key feature of the Galaxy S5 on the upcoming S6. Bgr.com reports the S6 will NOT be waterproof! They will make an ‘active’ version with waterproofing…for an extra charge.

The Kahn Academy has revamped its iOS app, and now ALL the training videos there are available on iPads for the first time. The verge.com says that includes 150,000 learning exercises! It automatically syncs with your desktop, too.

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HP Jumps In To The Giant Tablet Market

With a possible giant iPad widely rumored, HP jumped in with a 12.3 inch Android tablet. The verge.com says it looks like a giant HTC One M8, but does match iPad’s screen resolution. It starts at $569, with a 7.9 inch model setting you back $449.

Marriott is testing offering Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Pandora directly through the TVs in their rooms. Androidcentral.com reports that the services will end up being tacked on as a ‘premium’ internet tier.

Gigaom.com reports that Facebook is testing voice to text in their Messenger app. Facebook is a little late to the party with this, but hopes to add features to grow its Messenger app active user base.


HTC Will Reveal The Next One (M9?) Shortly

HTC will show it’s newest flagship smartphone- which most are dubbing the One M9- on March 1st at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The verge.com says it will be the successor to the top rated One M8. HTC may also show one or more wearable gadgets it’s been working on with Under Armour.

Virgin Mobile USA will now offer a contract free 4G family data sharing plan. According to engadget.com, plans start at $65 a month for 2 lines and 4 gigs, or up to $115 a month for 4 lines and 12 gigabytes. That’s $28.75 a month for each device. They do run on Sprint’s network, which is the slowest in the country, however.

The Next Samsung hero phone, the Galaxy S6, will likely have a fingerprint scanner similar to Apple’s. Gigaom.com has picked up a report from SamMobile that says Samsung will ditch the reader you have to swipe for a touch sensor like iPhone and iPad have.


New Samsung Design Chief Poached From Jony Ive’s Old Firm

In the imitation is the greatest form of flattery department, Samsung has hired the former CEO of a design firm founded by Apple’s design wizard Jony Ive. 9to5google.com says Lee Don-tae will oversee all Samsung gadget design, perhaps ditching the cheap looking plastic smartphone cases for something more Apple like.

After dropping prices as a Christmas promotion, Microsoft is again cutting the Xbox One back to $349. Techcrunch.com reports that Redmond hopes to outsell the Sony PS4 again, which they did in both November and December with the lower price. Since the price went back up the first of the month, PS4 once again outsold the Xbox.

Some patents take a while to get into devices, and others never see the light of day. Mac rumors.com says Apple has patented a pop up home button for iPhones and iPads that can work as a joy stick for gaming. It would still retain its normal functions like Touch ID.


California Grocery Stores Get Apple Pay

Apple Pay continues to spread. Macrumors.com says Save Mart has rolled it out at all 217 of its California and Nevada stores, including Lucky and Foodmaxx.

Always looking for ways to disrupt the bigger phone companies, T-Mobile has announced ‘Simply Prepaid.’ Gigaom.com reports it starts at $40, and you just pay for the 4G LTE data you expect to use. If you go over, you are just cut back to 3G the rest of the month.

Google just patented a way to activate private browsing on desktops and mobile. Thenextweb.com says it can be triggered by a secure login box or request for credit information. The Chrome browser should sport it soon.


Coffee Joining The Icemaker & Water in Your Fridge Door

If you need a new fridge, would love to reclaim counter space, but need your Kuerig, GE has a deal for you. Gizmodo.com says the Cafe French Door fridge will have a Kuerig built into the door, starting this fall. Expect to drop $3300!

Microsoft refuses to walk away from smartphones. Thenextweb.com reports that they introduced two low end Lumia phones today, the 435 and 532. Both will roll out in Europe and Asia first, starting in February.

Nintendo has confirmed the release of their latest handheld system, the 3DS XL for February 13th. Arstechnica.com says it will be just under $200, and Gamestop is taking preorders today.


MacBook Air Will Gain An Inch But Lose Girth

Apple will reportedly release a 12 inch Macbook Air before April. Geek.com says it will replace the 11 inch model, and..as rumored…will be even slimmer and drop all ports but a USB type C for charging and other connections.

You can already turn your Nest thermostat from ‘away’ to heating from your phone, but engadget.com reports Automatic has a car tracker that plugs into the ODB port of your car to do it hands free. It’s $100. The dongle also tracks your driving and helps save fuel.

According to appFigures, Google Play passed up Apple’s App Store in the number of new apps for the first time in 2014. Techcrunch.com says Google Play also now has more developers building its apps…388,000 to Apple’s 282,000.