Sprint’s quad-core LG Optimus G now on pre-order for $199 with contract

AT&T’s LG Optimus G

Sprint just announced customers could pre-order the LG Optimus G starting today for $199.99 with a new two-year contract or eligible upgrade.

So, what’s so special about this particular LTE Android smartphone? Well, it has a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 processor. It also features a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus display, 2GB of RAM, 32GB built-in storage, NFC, and a 2,100mAh battery.

Unfortunately, this powerful handset boasts the aging Ice Cream Sandwich OS. There is also no mention in the announcement of an upcoming upgrade. Take a look at 9to5Google’s hands-on review of the AT&T version for a full spec refresher.

Oh, but we must note the LG Optimus G’s cheese shutter. Yeah—you heard that right. The smartphone’s camera is voice-activated by words like “cheese” and “smile”—eliminating the need for a shutter button. Um, interesting?

AT&T folks should keep an eye out for availability too, as the competing Sprint carrier previously said it would open the pre-order gate Nov. 2.

Sprint’s press announcement is below. 

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Google Earth 7 for desktops adds tour guide & 3D imagery

On the Lat-Long Blog today, Google announced it is making new features available in the latest version of Google Earth including the tour guide and 3D imagery it rolled out to the mobile apps in July. Google Earth 7 for the desktop now includes “comprehensive and accurate tours of more than 11,000 popular sites around the world, including our growing list of cities where new 3D imagery is available.” Google is also rolling out more accurate 3D imagery for new areas:

In addition, Google Earth 7 now includes the comprehensive, accurate 3D imagery we’ve already made available on Android and iOS for Boulder, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Lawrence, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Seattle, Tampa, Tucson, Rome and the San Francisco Bay Area (including the Peninsula and East Bay). And today, we’re adding more 3D imagery for a handful of metropolitan regions including Avignon, France; Austin, Texas; Munich, Germany; Phoenix, Arizona; and Mannheim, Germany.

You can download Google Earth 7 here. Read more

Google Translate updated with reverse translations, frequency indicators, and grouped synonyms

Google is updating its Google Translate service with a few new features today. Among the new features is grouped clusters of synonyms for easier viewing, and frequency indicators that mark translations as “common, uncommon, or rare”. Google also explained a new “reverse translations” feature:

Our users often tell us that they check our translations by translating them back into their original language. Reverse translations can distinguish translations of different meanings and reveal subtle differences among similar words. Each translation is now annotated with its most frequent reverse translations.

The new grouped synonyms will initially only be available when translating into English, but Google said more languages will be added soon. Google also described how the frequency indicators will work: Read more

Google Play Store carrier billing goes live for Verizon customers

We knew that Google Play carrier billing would be available “in the coming weeks” for Verizon customers when Google confirmed on Twitter earlier this month. Today direct billing is officially rolling out to Verizon users with the new payment option now available form the Google Play store billing page pictured above (via AndroidPolice). Direct carrier billing is already available to most other Android users in the U.S. on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. No word yet on whether or not Verizon will employ the rumored $25 limit for direct billing. Read more

Google adds AMBER Alerts for missing children to Search and Maps

Google announced today on the Official Google Blog that it will now include public AMBER Alerts through Google Search results and Maps in coordination with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Google Public Alerts platform:

If you’re using Google Search or Maps on desktop and mobile you’ll see an AMBER Alert if you search for related information in a particular location where a child has recently been abducted and an alert was issued. You’ll also see an alert if you conduct a targeted search for the situation. By increasing the availability of these alerts through our services, we hope that more people will assist in the search for children featured in AMBER Alerts and that the rates of safe recovery will rise.

Google explained the alert could include information about an abducted child or additional details including “make and model of the vehicle he/she was abducted in or information about the alleged abductor.” It also said it is working with other organizations, such as Missing Children Europe and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, to roll out alerts to other countries as well. Google has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in order to display the AMBER alert data: Read more

Samsung officially announces 4.65-inch Galaxy Premier

Today Samsung’s Ukrainian website posted official info for the Samsung Galaxy Premier (I9260), a 4.65-inch smartphone that packs in a 1.5GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, Android 4.1, and a 720 x 1,280 Super AMOLED display (via Engadget). It also includes NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, a 2100 mAh battery, microSD, and a 8 megapixel rear and 1.9 megapixel front-facing camera. The Galaxy S III-looking device is set for a November release in Ukraine, but there is no word on a possible release elsewhere. Pricing for Ukraine works out to about $680. It also appears that it will be available in 8GB and 16GB variants. We’ll keep you posted if more markets are announced.  Read more