Google Launches New Modular Phone, Project Ara

Google announced that I will launch a modular smartphone platform in early 2015 that lets users pick and change out hardware components as they do with software apps presently.  Google says this plan – Project Ara – is meant to revolutionize the smartphone market.   A Google statement reads: Google ara-hero

“The smartphone is one of the most empowering and intimate objects in our lives, yet most of us have little say in how the device is made, what it does, and how it looks. And 5 billion of us don’t have one. What if you could make thoughtful choices about exactly what your phone does, and use it as a creative canvas to tell your own story?”

Google ara-modules

This news was announced at the first-ever Ara Developer Conference being held this week just outside of San Francisco in Mountain View, California. At the conference, Google released their “alpha version” of the Ara Module Developers Kit (MDK) which is an open platform reference spec containing everything you need to develop Ara modules.  The modules fit into a Ara exoskeleton when in turn fit together to form a fully functional customized smartphone. The Ara smartphone devices are expected to last 5-6 year and cost consumers $50. Google is planning to release various Ara pre-release updates in 2014 with prototypes expected in the Fall.

Google Project-Ara

Google Project_Ara_scattered

  • Ben Young

    And here I thought it was impractical or impossible from an engineering standpoint. Super stoked to see what comes from this.

    • basroil

      It’s certainly impractical, and it becomes impossible to do some things. The point of all-in-one designs is being compact, rigid, and very space efficient. To get this design, they sacrificed not one but two of those!

      • Ben Young

        And there’s still architectures and the like to consider. It’s not like you can throw a 4960X into an old LGA_775 motherboard down the line.

        • basroil

          That’s a little different, since we are talking about SoC. In this case most parts are connected by PCIe or I2C, so that isn’t going to be such an issue.

        • Ben Young

          That’s more or less exactly my point though. It’s like Moore’s Law of Tech: if it can be upgraded beyond it’s current specification, it will be. Once, say, DDR4L start’s making it’s rounds to cell phones, new modules get pushed out and old modules and your upgradability get dropped.

        • basroil

          Upgradability doesn’t change, only compatibility. 100% future/backwards compatibility is impossible, just like how it works on computers. Sure you can upgrade one component at a time, but eventually you will have to have changed every component in the computer to be able to upgrade further. Nothing wrong with that actually.

  • anon

    “Google Launches New Modular Phone”
    “Google presents the alpha version of a phone that may be launched early 2015”