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Google outs Project Ara smartphone plans

Google outs Project Ara smartphone plans

Google is to run three Project Ara conferences this year, with a view to preparing the market for the module smartphone platform's launch in early 2015.

Google has confirmed that it is ploughing ahead with Motorola's Project Ara modular smartphone concept, announcing a developers' conference in April ahead of planned commercialisation by early 2015.

The company formerly known as Motorola Mobility unveiled Project Ara back in October, two years after it had been acquired from parent company Motorola by advertising giant Google. Based on Dave Hakkens' Phonebloks concept, Project Ara looked to create a smartphone that had more in common with a traditional PC than its counterparts: a modular design which allows for easy upgrading or customisation of any component in the system.

When Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, it kept a fistful of handy patents and the Motorola Advanced Technologies and Projects division responsible for research and development projects including Project Ara. The company made no mention of Ara at the time, however, leaving the industry wondering if the concept had been shelved.

Thankfully for anyone who thinks the smartphone market is getting a little stale, that's far from the case: the company has announced that it will be holding a Project Ara Developers' Conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California on the 15th and 16th of April. One of a planned three events to take place this year, the conference will cover the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers' Kit, to launch in early April as a free resource for companies wishing to develop modules for the Ara platform.

Google has also confirmed plans to go ahead with commercialisation of the concept, telling Time that the device will be ready for release in the first quarter of 2015 - likely as a future Nexus handset running the company's Android operating system.

8 Comments

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damien c 27th February 2014, 13:27 Quote
Interesting.
Guinevere 27th February 2014, 13:30 Quote
I see these devices being a great success in the 'dev board / arduino / raspberry pi' space.

And when they take off there, you'll see tech heads using them as their primary phones. Taking them beyond the projects they'll build around them :)

Will they ever be mainstream enough to compete with the iOS/Android/Windows?

Would be nice to see. It would be great if there was an option in the marketplace for people to build and tweak their own device. Power to the people!
GuilleAcoustic 27th February 2014, 13:34 Quote
Interesting. Glad they kept this patent. Hope it will hit shelves.
gosh 27th February 2014, 18:25 Quote
can't see how this will ever compete on the phone side - parcelling components in little blocks must significantly increase the space they use plus probably affect latency or cause power problems.

hugely interested in this from a home/portable device front though, build a nice lil media server/android & emulations games device to spec which is upgradable if needed - remains to be seen if price will be competitive though
Dave Lister 27th February 2014, 19:07 Quote
I'll certainly get one if it's done right. It did look prettier in the original phoneblocks video than it does in that picture though :(
mi1ez 27th February 2014, 21:24 Quote
Can't wait to see what comes of this... Even if it's no better than a regular phone and the updated hardware modules never arrive, I love the design!
raxonb 2nd March 2014, 12:39 Quote
If it all works out we can have a new sister magazine - Custom Phone. Imagine somewhere down the line a review of a water cooled quad tegra SLI configuration!!

On a serious note though if they are doing this with phones then surely this can be applied to tablets too?
.//TuNdRa 2nd March 2014, 13:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by raxonb
If it all works out we can have a new sister magazine - Custom Phone. Imagine somewhere down the line a review of a water cooled quad tegra SLI configuration!!

On a serious note though if they are doing this with phones then surely this can be applied to tablets too?

I vaguely remember that Phonebloks (An independent company who partnered with Google for Project Ara) wanted to produce three different form-factors of base; a smaller 4.3"-ish version, a 5" phone, and a Larger "Tablet Sized" one, although I can't, for the life of me, find the information, so I could just be making this up.

I wouldn't be surprised that if the phone takes off; a Tablet version will follow. The design is fairly clever, and so long as the base is simple enough that it's possible to run things at higher clock speeds without leakage; it'd be possible to just keep upgrading parts on the same base without caring about if it works or not.
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