Rockchip processors are coming to Google’s Project Ara

Assuming that everything goes according to plan, there is a good chance that Google could be set to release Project Ara in 2015. Now given that we still have a few more months until 2015, this means that there are probably still plenty of revisions Google could make to Project Ara ahead of its release. Well the good news is that it looks like one of those revisions includes an upgraded processor. In a recent Google+ post, Google announced that they expect to have a prototype unit of Project Ara in 2015 that will come with a new Rockchip CPU. Google’s choice to go with Rockchip has raised a few eyebrows, namely because Qualcomm seems to be the popular choice for smartphone SoCs.

Google’s Project Ara is an effort to design a modular smartphone so that customers can buy just the skeleton of a phone and then attach the screen, battery, processor, and other components as they see fit. The earliest prototypes have been powered by Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 processors. Now the Project Ara team has announced that it’s working with Chinese chip maker Rockchip on new processors that will be compatible with Project Ara phones. The goal is to develop chips with a UniPro interface allowing the chip to be part of an Ara module, just like other components of a smartphone such as cameras or wireless cards. The first prototype to support Rockchip’s upcoming system-on-a-chip is expected to be available in early 2015. While we wait for that, the Project Ara team plans to start shipping first-generation hardware featuring Texas Instruments chips to developers in the next few weeks, and a new version of the group’s module developer kit should be available soon. Later this year there will be a second Project Ara developer conference.

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New wearable wants to help you run better, smarter and safer

As great as running is for your health, it can also cause you some pain if not done properly — like a lot of things in life, overdoing it could turn out unwanted results (hello, shin splints). Thankfully, there’s a new Kickstarter project which is…

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Apple offers battery replacements for some early iPhone 5 units

It’s hardly uncommon for smartphone batteries to lose some of their oomph over time, but Apple just might be able to help if your iPhone 5′s battery has been flakier than usual. The folks in Cupertino have figured out that some of the iPhone 5s sold…

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Microsoft is looking to take on Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle

Look who is building a streaming dongle now: Microsoft is getting ready to launch its very own Chromecast competitor, according documents filed with the FCC that were unearthed this week. The FCC application for the device with the model number HD-10 is heavily redacted and doesn’t actually spell out what it can be used for, only revealing that it comes with a HDMI port, Wi-Fi and a USB connection for power supply.

Google’s Chromecast is a hit, and now it appears Microsoft wants to replicate something similar for Windows Phone and probably Windows PCs. Windows Phone Daily and Nokiapoweruser did some sleuthing at the Federal Communication Commission’s website, and look what they found: a new mobile accessory from Microsoft. At first it wasn’t clear what the product was, but after checking other resources online it appears Microsoft is making a Miracast dongle for HDTVs. Miracast is a screencasting standard for connected devices over Wi-Fi Direct. Coincidence?—Microsoft recently added Miracast support to Windows Phone via theLumia Cyan firmware for Windows Phone 8.1. It appears the new dongle would take advantage of Windows Phone 8.1′s Miracast-based Project My Screen feature to broadcast your screen to a TV. This could be used for putting anything from videos and games to presentations and photos on your living room’s big screen.

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Apple blocks access to Secret in Brazil after anti-bullying ruling

A few days ago, a Brazilian judge ordered Apple and Google to pull Secret from the local app store and wipe it from the handsets of whose who had downloaded it. The same ruling covered Microsoft, who was ordered to do the same to Windows Phone clone…

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Crowdfunded project uses 3D motion capture to catalog ancient Kung Fu styles

The influence of Hong Kong action cinema stars like Bruce Lee lives on in today’s cinema, but the ancient styles they based their techniques on are slowly dying out. There’s now a crowdfuding project aimed at preserving the heritage of different Kung…

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California is requiring Google’s self-driving car to have a manual option

One of the unique features inside Google’s self-driving car is that it doesn’t sport a steering wheel or a set of pedals. That won’t fly on public roads in California though, so the folks in Mountain View are faced with adding them or sticking to closed-course testing. New regulations that go into effect next month require autonomous vehicles to let the driver take “immediate physical control” should the need arise. Google says it’ll adhere to the rule by installing a temporary steering wheel and pedals in its 100 prototype cars set to begin testing on private roads in September.

Google caused a stir earlier this year when it unveiled a self-driving car without a steering wheel or pedals for braking or accelerating. But Google’s goal of an autonomous car is bumping up against new testing rules from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The rules, which take effect on Sept. 16, require a driver to be able to take “immediate physical control” of a vehicle on public roads if needed. That means the car must have a steering wheel and brake and accelerator pedals, according to Bernard Soriano, the top official developing the rules for the state. Google could test its fully autonomous prototype on private roads, or try to test the vehicle on public roads outside California. But the company said it plans to comply with the California rule by building a small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system that drivers can use during testing. “With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary,” Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne said.

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