Google pays homage to ‘Star Trek’ 46th anniversary with interactive Doodle

Trekkies rejoice!

Google is celebrating the 46th anniversary of “Star Trek: The Original Series”, although the first episode’s anniversary is tomorrow, with an interactive Doodle on the homepage. Google told Mashable it launched the game-like Doodle a day early so “people would have time to play with it and discover the entire story.”

The Doodle spotlights the show’s primary characters as letters from the word “Google”. Spock, for instance, is the ‘G’, while Kirk is an ‘o’. It also combines many familiar sounds and sights from the iconic Sci-Fi series including scenery of the USS Enterprise and its Transporter.

Ryan Germick, a self-touted Trekkie and leader of the Google Doodle Team, sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the design process behind today’s Doodle:

We went through lot of different iterations. What we’re looking to do is show them. And it seemed like a way to double-down sort of silly, campy nature of what we’re doing with the doodle to put in Kirk’s block of hair, Spock’s ears. It’s a testament to the power of the show, and how iconic it is, that you can just put a couple details on anything, even a letter ‘G’ and know it’s a Vulcan. That was really fun to play with and informs the whole direction of [the silly style].

Check out Entertainment Weekly for more inside details. 

Can you identify the other characters in today’s Doodle? A gallery is below.

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Google acquires online virus scanning service VirusTotal

According to a statement from VirusTotal (via TNW), a free online virus scanning service, its long-time partner Google has acquired the service. There is no specific word on how Google might take advantage of the company to improve security offerings across its products, but VirusTotal confirmed it will continue to “operate independently, maintaining our partnerships with other antivirus companies and security experts”:

Our goal is simple: to help keep you safe on the web. And we’ve worked hard to ensure that the services we offer continually improve. But as a small, resource-constrained company, that can sometimes be challenging. So we’re delighted that Google, a long-time partner, has acquired VirusTotal. This is great news for you, and bad news for malware generators, because:

  • The quality and power of our malware research tools will keep improving, most likely faster; and
  • Google’s infrastructure will ensure that our tools are always ready, right when you need them.

All New Kindle Fire Tablets are ad-supported

How did Amazon get such low price points on the new Fire tablets? JR Rafael points out something in the fine print:

Special Offers

The new Kindle Fire family comes with special offers that appear on the lock screen. Examples of special money-saving offers that customers will enjoy include a $5 credit in the Amazon MP3 Store and a $5 credit for select titles in the Amazon Instant Video Store. Customers will also receive special offers and screensavers from brands like AT&T, Discover and Intel, such as a special offer of a $10 Gift Card when a customer uses their Discover card to purchase a digital product on Amazon.

Translation: All these new devices are basically ad-supported.

That is interesting because Bezos also said:

Amazon wants to make money when people use its products. If someone puts it in a desk drawer, Amazon deserves nothing.

Frankly—if ads pay for some of the cost of delivering a solid device at super aggressive price points, then good for Amazon. My biggest question is: Of all the companies in the world, why is Google not doing this?

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Amazon drops price of Kindle Fire to $159 adds $199 and $299 HD models in 7 and 8.9-inch varieties (and $499 LTE)

Live from Amazon’s Kindle event; the company just unveiled a refreshed Kindle Fire lineup dubbed the “Kindle Fire HD”. A few of the highlights: the device now comes in an 8.9-inch 1,920-by-1,200-pixel variant (in addition to a new 7-inch 1,280-by-800-pixel HD model) with 254 ppi, double the RAM of previous models, longer battery life, and a laminated touch sensor that reduces screen glare by up to 25 percent. The 8.9-inch Fire HD is set to ship Nov. 20 for $299, while a 7-inch Fire HD will cost you $199 when it ships Sept. 14.

Amazon also announced a 32GB 4G LTE model will ship Nov. 20 for $499 with LTE packages starting at $50 per year:

A few other notable specs for the new Fire HD line:
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Google and Bing duke it out in Microsoft’s ‘Bing It On’ blind comparison test

Microsoft built an interactive side-by-side “search off” that blindly compares Bing’s search relevancy to the all-powerful Google in an attempt to show consumers how effective its results are after branding and preconceptions are stripped from the engine.

Bing It On boldly advertises “people choose Bing web search results over Google nearly 2 to 1 in blind comparison tests.” So, how does it work? Participants submit a query and immediately see two panes with 10 results each. Bing and Google results are aggregated in the side-by-side panes with all branding removed. The test does not include ads, Bing’s Snapshot and Social Search panes or Google’s Knowledge Graph. The participants must decide which pane gave the best results for each query. They can choose either “Left side search engine”, “Right side search engine”, or “Draw.” After each participant performs five searches, their total votes determine the ultimate winner (Bing, Google or Draw).

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South Korean regulators investigating Samsung monopoly concerns following antitrust complaints from Apple

According to a report from Reuters, South Korean regulators, the Korea Fair Trade Commission, are investigating Samsung regarding complaints from Apple that the company is “abusing its dominant position in wireless technology.” The issue at hand is whether Samsung is using its monopoly in the tech industry to demand higher licensing fees from Apple.

The FTC is investigating whether Samsung is unfairly competing in the market by abusing its dominance in wireless technology patents. Apple filed its complaints earlier this year, said an FTC official, who is not authorized to talk to the media…European Union regulators have also been investigating Samsung for possible breaches of antitrust rules by accusing rivals of infringing its technology patents.

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Samsung says Galaxy S III hits 20M sold in just 100 days after launch

After the company’s mobile division head, JK Shin, said it expected sales of 10 million Galaxy S IIIs during July, it is perhaps not too much of a surprise that the company has now confirmed sales of 20 million units in just 100 days following the device’s launch. That’s roughly 200,000 units a day. To put it in perspective, the S III is selling about three times as fast as the Galaxy S II, which we found we heard in February took about 10 months after its release to hit the 20 million-unit mark.

Samsung also broke down the sales by region: 4 million units for North America; 6 million in Europe; 4.5 million in Asia; and 2.5 million at home in Korea. In just over three months, the S III has almost reached the S II’s 28 million units sold to date. Samsung also announced a few new colors for the device including Amber Brown, Garnet Red, Sapphire Black and Titanium Gray: Read more

T-Mobile officially rolls out unlimited nationwide 4G data plans

T-Mobile confirmed last month that it would bring its truly unlimited nationwide 4G data plans to all on Sept. 5, and the carrier just issued the press release below to remind us of today’s launch. As part of the announcement, T-Mobile is offering deals on a few 4G smartphones, including the HTC One S, which you can pick up for free on a two-year contract with a $50 mail-in rebate. It does not look like that particular deal is being advertised on the T-Mobile website, but the plans featuring no data caps, no speed limits and no overages will be available to all starting today through retail stores and online at The full press release is below: Read more

Report: Oracle ordered to pay Google over $1M for legal expenses accrued during suit

A jury decided earlier this summer that Google did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents, but it has now come to light that Oracle must pay $1,130,350 to Google for its steep legal fees accrued during the lengthy lawsuit and trial.

Oracle, a database software giant based in Redwood City, Calif., sued Google in August 2010, while alleging the Android operating system violated a number of patents and copyrights within Java, which Oracle acquired through Sun Microsystems. Android currently powers more than 150 million mobile devices. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., adamantly denied Oracle’s contention, and claimed the Android team was unaware of Sun’s patents before the suit.

Oracle, of course, did not succeed in landing a $6 billion settlement from Google, but it did win the responsibility of paying Google’s legal expenses. Google first asked for over $4 million, according to legal news website Groklaw, but Judge William Aslup recently reduced that amount significantly.

The Google vs. Oracle drama stretched into weeks with much interesting news unveiling along the way. Chairman Eric Schmidt gave a sarcasm-riddled testimony, and Android’s founder Andy Rubin even took the stand to reveal a slide deck with Google’s ambitions to sell 10 million Android tablets during 2011.

Judge Aslup even required both companies to reveal a list of bloggers and journalists paid for commentary during the course of the trial, in which Google admitted to using Stanford professor Mark Lemly as a commentator on unrelated cases. Oracle, on the other hand, disclosed a controversial relationship with patent guru Florian Mueller.

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HTC announces event for Sept. 19 hoping not to get caught in iPhone tidal wave


If you are anywhere near electricity, you probably know Apple formally announced its Sept. 12 event today. Not even an hour later, HTC announced that it would hold an event a week later.

At least it is not opening for Apple like others.

Speaking of which…we will be at the Motorola Droid RAZR HD event tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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New LTE-enabled Pantech Flex spotlights ‘Easy Experience’ ICS mode [Video]

Pantech and AT&T are exclusively offering a simplified Android handset, dubbed “the Pantech Flex,” starting Sept. 16 for $49.99 with a two-year agreement.

The 4G LTE-enabled Flex runs on Android 4.0, but it also includes a new Easy Experience mode that “prioritizes customers’ apps on the home screen in a clearly organized and easy-to-read format.” Users can toggle between a traditional mode and the easy mode.

The smartphone further boasts a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display, 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p HD video recording, and a two-megapixel front-facing camera.

Get the full details in the video above or presser below. 

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