Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group recently gave us an update on Project Ara, the modular smartphone that it’s been working on for more than a year now.
We’ve been hearing about the idea of modular smartphones increasingly over the past year or so, especially once the base idea behind Phonebloks was picked up by Google to transform into what is now known as Project Ara. Project Ara, when released (January 2015, allegedly), would be the first smartphone to use interchangeable “blocks”, or modules, in order for users to customize their smartphones much more than is currently feasible.
Much like we’ve seen from the Nexus lineup, Google simply offers options for consumers to pick and choose which parts of a smartphone are important to them personally, and that’s exactly what Project Ara is. It’s an option. And, for people who love to customize things, and who would really like to build a phone like some people build a car, Ara is perfect.
For those unfamiliar with Project Ara and modular smartphones, the concept is fairly simple. Instead of having this pre-constructed phone that’s completely set in its ways, you have the base of the phone (the exoskeleton) and then compartments to place the modules themselves in. The modules all represent different parts of the smartphone like the camera, processor, RAM, storage, cellular network, and more, all of which can be switched out whenever you’re ready for a change. Project Ara is set to release sometime in 2015, most likely sometime in the fourth quarter.
It’s actually great for several reasons. Whether you’re interested in a less expensive smartphone, the best of the best or something in between, Project Ara can allow you to do that. Maybe you want to start out small and work your way up; you can switch out individual modules gradually to your liking. Or maybe your camera stops working for whatever reason. Instead of having to switch out your entire phone, you just get a replacement module and switch it out – easy as that.
It’s a small start, but I have the feeling that modular smartphones have the potential to become something great in the smartphone industry. It might also be a flop, but I strongly feel that the modular design – particularly in the case of Ara– is a simple enough concept for a good number of people to get on board with.