Project Ara is surely one of the most exciting things Google is working on right now -- at least from the ones we're aware of. Better yet, given how young it is, chances are it will only keep getting better and more interesting. While speaking at a Purdue University event, Google's Paul Eremenko, director of Project Ara, recently revealed that the company will be taking a cue from the Play store to create a similar shopping experience for its modular smartphone. What this means, essentially, is you'd be able to buy or sell different components from a single hub, just as is the case now with apps, music, books and more on Google Play -- and it would also include reviews and recommendations. Eremenko didn't mention any details related to the status of Project Ara, but you can check out the full talk after the break.

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Partial solar eclipse at sunset moment

Google Now has just added more cards to its ever-increasing arsenal, and this time, they'll help you prepare for eclipses and possibly dangerous situations. The new eclipse card lists almost everything you need to know about the phenomenon, including what it is, how to make a pinhole projector to view it and how to photograph it safely. If you can see the card right now, then you're most likely somewhere in North America, and the partial solar eclipse tomorrow will be visible where you live, weather permitting. The second card, on the other hand, shows you any police activity happening in your area and nearby places, though an Android Police commenter suggests the card isn't exactly new, just rare. Sure, getting one of these cards might be a bit stressful, since nobody wants to hear that there are bad guys prowling around their neighborhood. But at least it can let you know when to be extra careful or to avoid places where there's trouble.

[Image credit: Zhan Tian/Getty]

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While Canada is the brunt of countless jokes, it seems like our friendly neighbors to the north have the last laugh this time. At least when it comes to playing SimCity on the go, that is. The folks at EA have recently soft-launched SimCity BuildIt on Android, and like so many other mobile games it won't cost a dime to download. Of course, once you start shelling out for in-app purchases that'll change in an instant. Why the lack of fanfare? Well, the last game in the series didn't fare so well at the outset or for awhile afterward, so that might have something to do with it. Android Community says that despite expectations, however, it isn't a mobile port of the PC title. Instead, it's apparently more along the lines of a typical Android city builder, just with a SimCity coat of paint. We've embedded a gameplay video after the break so you can judge for yourself.

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The Yahoo! Billboard, San Francisco

Yahoo has just released a new Mail update for iOS and Android that integrates event and travel notifications within the app... whoa wait, why does that sound familiar? Another tech company with a name that starts with a G might have announced something similar earlier, but we're not entirely sure (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Kidding aside, the Today section in the Yahoo Mail app can now tell you if your flight's been delayed or canceled and give you directions to the airport: you can even call the airline or go straight to its website if you need to rebook, right from the app. When you visit a new area, you'll automatically get restaurant and attraction suggestions, replete with their Yelp reviews. Finally, if you're attending an Evite, Eventbrite or Ticketmaster event, the app will show you its details, along with directions on how to get to there. The update's already out on both iTunes and Google Play, but (unfortunately for most countries around the globe) the features are only available in the US for now.

[Image credit: Scott Schiller/Flickr]

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A group of developers thought it would be fun to merge playground activities with mobile gaming -- so they did. They've created a system called Hybrid Play that lets kids (or adults, no judgment here) control games on their phones with see-saws, swing sets and other playground toys. To transform these outdoor playsets into big controllers, kids will have to clip the Hybrid Play sensor (above) onto their slides and merry-go-rounds. This sensor (which is dust- impact- and water-resistant) is powered by an Arduino microcontoller and equipped with accelerometers, gyroscopes, infrared and Bluetooth. It transforms real-life movements into signals sent to your phone, which the app then converts into virtual action. By the way, the system's iOS and Android apps will come loaded with a selection of games to choose from, but everyone can make their own, as it's an open-source project.

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Xiaomi's a force to be reckoned with in China -- its new phones routinely sell out online in seconds -- but its influence is steadily growing outside its native home. That's why the company's infrastructure has been quietly shifting these past few months, and VP/former Googler Hugo Barra pulled back the curtain on what Xiaomi's been up to. Long story short: it's moving user data around the world, not only to make sure its services work better, but also to better protect its users' information.

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Microsoft Torque on a Samsung Gear Live

Slightly irked that you have to say "OK Google" whenever you want to use voice search on your Android Wear smartwatch? Microsoft, of all companies, is coming to your rescue. The developer is leading a trio of experimental Android releases with Torque, an app that lets you start a Bing search just by twisting your wrist; you only have to speak when you're asking your question. You'll get optimized output for certain kinds of search results, including maps, stocks and weather.

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Inside An AT&T Store Ahead of Earnings Figures

It's no secret that the US wireless market is saturated, and that most people who want a mobile device have already purchased one by now. Naturally, this means that the national players in the industry are looking for other points of revenue to aid future growth. AT&T is proving that it's one of the most successful in this venture by announcing today that it's activated a heap of connected devices last quarter -- to the tune of 1.3 million. That's a healthy number, especially since the company accumulated only a tenth of that in the previous quarter. This genre refers to a wide range of gadgets that come with an AT&T SIM card inside, but the most interesting part of this announcement is that over 500,000 of those activated devices come from connected cars.

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Heads up, Android fans: Google Earth for your phones is about to get a lot better. That's what the folks in Mountain View are promising, anyway -- they've released an update to the app brings with it snappier performance and improved labels for maps (you'll never wonder where Foster City and Redwood Shores begin and end again). Perhaps the biggest change, though -- a completely rebuilt 3D rendering engine -- means those cityscapes and mountain ranges you pore over should show up with more crispness and clarity. Try not to lord that over your friends using Apple Maps, will you? Throw in a way to import your own custom .KML files into the app from Google Drive and you've got all the makings of a pretty momentous update. Itching to take it for a spin? Mosey on over to the Google Play Store to get your globetrotting fix.

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Testing Apple Pay in September

Went on a spending spree with your Bank of America debit card the moment Apple Pay hit your iPhone? You might be in for a (brief) shock. The bank is now issuing refunds after it charged at least some Apple Pay users twice when they made purchases at retail shops. While it hasn't said what triggered the glitch, the issue doesn't appear to involve Apple's software -- there haven't been widespread reports of problems with other cards, and Apple itself doesn't process transactions. Whatever was the cause, it's not surprising that a major mobile payment service would run into some hiccups just after launch. Let's just hope that things go more smoothly from here on out.

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At its mobile developer conference in San Francisco, Twitter just announced Digits, a brand-new way to log in to apps with just your phone number. Instead of going through the tedious process of signing up with an email and password or using one of many different social logins, all you need is to enter in your number. When you do, you'll get a confirmation code via SMS. Enter that in as well, and away you go; no need to remember passwords or go through CAPTCHAs. Digits is not based on Twitter at all; it's actually an entirely new product that developers can incorporate into their apps, be they Twitter-related or not. It's a key part of Fabric, Twitter's new mobile development kit that it's rolling out today. Digits is available for iOS, Android and the web, and it's available in 216 countries in 28 languages right now.

Aside from Digits, Fabric includes several other tools that Twitter hopes developers will incorporate into their existing apps, such as Crashlytics, the crash-reporting tool that the company bought last year, and MoPub, its advertising platform. There's also something called TwitterKit, which finally brings system-level Twitter sign-on to Android, a service that's been on iOS for a while now. This means that you only need to sign on to Twitter once on an Android phone, and you'll be able to easily access all apps that require a Twitter login. Especially of note is that developers can now not only embed tweets in their apps, but also add the ability to compose and post tweets inside of them without having to launch the dedicated Twitter app.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you're anything like us, Google's Gmail has an iron grip on your life. Google's looking to create a whole new iron grip with a new app from its Gmail team, and it's called "Inbox." What is it? That's a good question -- Google's made a demo slash advertisement video that we've dropped below. As far as we can tell, Inbox is a combination of Google Now and your Gmail inbox -- a "smart" inbox, if you will. It combines alike pieces of email (bank invoices, for example), highlights related information (like Google Now alerting you to flight changes, traffic, etc.) and keeps track of your life (it'll give you reminders, among other heads ups). Is this the end of Gmail? We seriously doubt it, but it is Google's latest foray into simplifying email. Head below for more!

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For anyone with a Sky+HD box, the Sky+ app for Android and iOS gives you a handy way to manage recordings while away from home, and lets you use mobile devices as substitute remotes when you're plonked in front of the TV. Now, with an updated version of the app released today, you can also use it to push your summer holiday snaps to the biggest display in your living room. As long as the smartphone or tablet running the Sky+ app is connected to the same WiFi network as your set-top box, tap the new camera icon in the app's navigation bar and you'll be able to send any images stored on the device to your TV screen, or set a slideshow running.

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Padlock

Just because FBI director James Comey believes his agency has a right to see your phone's encrypted data doesn't mean he'll get his way. Members of Congress from both major parties, including House Representatives Darrell Issa and Zoe Lofgren as well as Senator Ron Wyden, are saying that there's "zero chance" they'll pass a bill requiring that device encryption includes backdoor access for federal investigators. They argue that law enforcement has blown whatever chance it had at public support -- accountability problems at multiple agencies (especially the NSA) have led many to distrust the government's data requests. As it stands, the FBI is battling some fierce legal headwinds. The House recently passed a bill banning the NSA from using backdoor searches, and it's doubtful that these politicians will heed Comey's calls for more access.

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If you ever thought to yourself, "Self, I need a crowdfunded toothbrush that tracks my oral activities," you're in luck. The folks at Goodwell estimate that we'll each go through some 300 toothbrushes over the course of our lifetime. As such, it wants to do its part to wage a war against the "planned obsolescence" of traditional fang-cleaning apparatus. For just $69, you get a hollow aluminum handle with a compostable, replaceable, charcoal brush head -- even with a $79 subscription for replacement parts that's still cheaper than Oral B's SmartSeries. If you're feeling even more spendy though, you can get what's known as the premium kit, which comes with screw-on flosser and tongue-scraper accessories, costing $89.

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