Google's Modular smartphone, Project Ara coming to developers later this year

By on Email @exolete

Google Project Ara Developer Edition

At its I/O 2016 developer conference Google announced that Project Ara is live and kicking, with a developer version coming later this year.

During Google's ATAP (Advanced Technologies And Products) panel at I/O, the company showed a prototype of the Ara Developer Edition on stage with 6 removable hardware modules which could be swapped out without the need to reboot the device.

To get a glimpse into the Ara Modular Smartphone, you can watch the video below:

The Ara Developer Edition is expected to be out later this year with a consumer variant coming in 2017, but there's no word on pricing yet. It will come with a 5.3-inch display and Google said that are already working with Panasonic, TDK, iHealth, Sony Pictures and Samsung for the modules. The demo unit showed six swappable modules on the back with each using the same connector standard, meaning you can use any connect in any part of the device.

Now, to eject a module you have to tell Android first. You can either choose to do it through a dedicated app or just say "OK Google, eject the camera" and it shall be. But then you have to physically remove the module yourself, not everything can be done by machine.

Now, one thing we should make clear here is that the basic phone components like the SoC, battery, display cannot be swapped out right now. So, you are pretty much stuck with what you buy including memory, but one could probably get a microSD card slot module or even a storage module attached to the device.

The possibilities are endless, a better camera, a stronger flash, a louder speaker, a better microphone, a heart-rate sensor, fingerprint sensor and a lot more. But its the integration of all these modules and how intuitive the entire process is along with the cost of these separate module which will make of break Project Ara. This would be Google's first smartphone as a manufacturer, let's see how that goes.