News

Cancelled Project Ara prototype shows up, reveals specs

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Project Ara

One of the biggest disappointments of the year — and there have been many — is the cancellation of Google’s modular smartphone, Project Ara. We wrote a lengthy piece about the program’s timeline once we got confirmation of its demise, thinking that we’d never hear of it again. Now, out of nowhere, Phandroid acquired a working prototype, and subsequently answered several lingering questions.

The website didn’t disclose how they acquired a developer version, but we don’t really care; we just want more information on Google’s most ambitious smartphone to date. (Sorry, Pixel.)

Check out some of the photos:

As you can tell by the looks, we can see why Project Ara never got past the beta stages: It’s freakishly thick at 12.5mm, and that’s without the bulging camera module!

Actually, the entire design seems impractical. It’s nowhere near as fluid as the partially modular Moto Z or LG G5. The colorful renders we gandered at before were far more appealing than what we’re looking at now.

Like we mentioned in the past, Project Ara’s downfall was in its overcomplexity; you’re going to end up with a bulky, blocky handset no matter what. Or, we simply aren’t ready for a truly modular handset.

[irp posts=”4335″ name=”Project Ara’s story is all about wasted potential”]

While it’s pointless to discuss specs, it’s interesting to note that the working unit has a 5.46-inch Full HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 5-megapixel front-facing camera, all of which are integrated and can’t be replaced.

The only removable modules seen in the photos are the 2.1-megapixel rear camera (you read that correctly; it’s lower than the front image sensor’s resolution), 32GB storage, and 3450mAh battery. With everything put together, you’d have a decent smartphone — if this were 2014.

There’s also a video showing off some module-ejecting action:

Whether or not the final product would’ve looked like this developer unit doesn’t matter anymore at this point. Let’s just file this under  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ for the time being.

Source: Phandroid

News

Facebook is working on a smartwatch with two cameras

The company has ambitious goals

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Facebook Reality Labs

Reports emerged earlier this year that Facebook is planning to launch a smartwatch next summer. The watch will have a display and two cameras that can be detached to take photos and video like you would on a smartphone or GoPro camera.

According to The Verge, one camera on the front of the watch display will be used for video calling. In contrast, the other 1080p camera with auto-focusing will be detachable for capturing pictures and videos. The content could then be shared on Facebook and Instagram and other apps owned by the company.

Facebook is working with third-party companies to create accessories attached to the camera, such as backpacks. It is also working with wireless carriers in the US to support wireless connectivity.

With a camera system designed in-house, Facebook could offer a new feature that’s not usually found on a smartwatch. The wearable segment is already very saturated, making it quite difficult for newcomers to justify their existence. Backed by Android’s custom version, the wearable will feature a heart rate monitor and other features that have become standard across the segment.

The Verge also notes that future iterations of the smartwatch could “serve as a key input device for its planned augmented reality glasses.” It’ll be available in three colors: white, black, and gold.

In terms of pricing, Facebook has reportedly “discussed pricing the device at roughly US$ 400,” which will put it up against offerings from other established makers such as Apple and Samsung. Facebook is working on second and third generations and plans to use technology it acquired from CTRL-labs to achieve its vision.

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Apps

The US revokes Trump’s executive order that banned TikTok

A level-playing field for everyone

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President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that sets criteria for the government to evaluate the risk of apps connected to foreign adversaries. It’s specifically meant for apps like TikTok and WeChat, which President Trump banned.

It should use an “evidence-based approach” to see if they pose a risk to US national security, said Biden. If apps are found violating fundamental laws, a ban can be imposed. The task of identifying threats has been given to the US Commerce Department.

Trump’s executive order particularly targeted TikTok and WeChat. Instead, Biden is opting for a level-playing field for everyone. Biden shares the same concerns as Trump, but their approach is vastly different.

Under the previous administration, TikTok remained in a precarious position as Trump sought to ban the app unless it sold to an American company. A proposal was produced that would have seen Oracle and Walmart owning a US entity of the service and taking responsibility for handling TikTok’s US user data and content moderation.

But there were numerous legal challenges, and before they could be ironed out, Trump lost the election. The Biden administration’s new executive order does not affect those negotiations, which are a separate process. The order also calls upon federal agencies to develop recommendations – for future executive actions or legislation — on how to protect the data of US citizens.

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Computers

AMD unveils new Radeon PRO workstation GPUs

Based on the same architecture as the next-gen consoles

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PRO W6000

AMD may be facing some shortages in their chips for the remainder of this year, but it’s not stopping them just yet. Within their GPU lineup, Team Red looks to launch a more powerful AMD Radeon PRO W6000 series of workstation graphics. This time around, they’ve integrated a familiar and powerful type of RDNA architecture to boost your workstation’s graphical performance.

See, AMD designed the new Radeon PRO W6000 series of workstation GPUs for heavier, more complex workloads. From demanding architectural design to 4K video rendering, these new GPUs will ideally handle all of these with ease. One of the big reasons behind this is that these GPUs are built using the RDNA 2 architecture. Yes, it’s the same architecture behind the GPUs of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X|S!

Apart from graphical performance boosts, the Radeon PRO W6000 series also offers realtime ray-tracing for faster renders. Essentially, the GPU has more enhanced compute units that boost design renders by up to 46 percent compared to previous generations. Along with AMD’s Smart Access Memory, you can even unlock higher performance for supported AMD Ryzen CPUs.

AMD will roll out their Radeon PRO W6000 series of GPUs in this fashion, along with their SRPs:

  • Now Available: AMD Radeon PRO W6800 (US$ 2,249)
  • Starting July 2021: AMD Radeon PRO W6600M (in select countries and mobile workstations)
  • Q3 2021: AMD Radeon PRO W6600 (US$ 649)
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