Project Ara has been in the spotlight for a while now and, while progress has been made, it seems to be much farther from release than we thought. The smartphone that lets you swap important hardware components in order to upgrade your device one piece at a time was supposed to debut in Puerto Rico sometime this summer.
After three months of zero contact, it appears that plans are changing because the Project Ara team announced on Twitter that the market pilot is being rerouted to an undisclosed location. No other details were released except for the fact that more news will show up sometime next week. The team hinted that their device will eventually reach the Puerto Rico market.
This all follows the Google restructuring process where it becomes the largest subsidiary to Alphabet, the new holding company that presides over most of the previously held Google projects. It’s nice to know the project Ara is not over, at least not for the time being.
The Ara configurator app is now available and it will be the piece of software required to build your Ara phone. Even if the actual phone still has a long-ish way to go before it can be bought by the public, Google is working on the market strategy to make the prototype a success.
The Ara Configurator will help users build and buy phones. The software lets you go through the entire designing process from exterior shells to more important modules and endo frames. The app is built on the base of Material Design and it lets users pinch the screen to move between the three different layers of customization.
Swiping left and right lets users move through summaries of the phone starting with the market. There, users can save certain modules they can buy later on. The final screen of the app shows users their creation, including price and key specs such as the estimated battery life.
People who don’t want to build their phone from scratch can take advantage of Google’s pre-built options. Users can also customize their shell with photos.
Even if the entire project is still far from fruition, it is a great effort on Google’s side when it comes to marketing project Ara.
Project Ara is not the only concept meant to create modular phones anymore, as Puzzlephone could be an improved version of Google’s efforts in the near future. This project belongs to Finland’s Circular Devices and their device would break into three parts where the spine would become the LCD screen with speakers and the basic structure whereas the Brain will be the camera and processor modules and the Heart is the battery with the second structures.
The idea stems from the success Project Ara had this year and it basically represents a much more basic idea. Phones are important devices in peoples’ lives right now, and when one component from your beloved mobile world is ruined, you feel as if your entire world is ruined. With the modular phone system, things would be much simpler as, when something breaks, you can replace it with a new portion and still keep your beloved handset at the expense of a battery and a processor or some RAM.
The Finnish company based in Espoo resides in the same town as the one Nokia sprouted from, and it has been working on Puzzlephone since 2013, and it appears to be close to producing a working prototype. They are definitely not on the same page as Google’s Ara project, which is said to get to store shelves as soon as the summer of 2015, but it’s a start. The phone is supposed to launch in the second half of 2015, and it would have a mid-range price.
The Puzzlephone would run on a forked Android OS version but its developers will be looking for third party developers and options in order to stay true to their open source standards. As Ara showed earlier this year, Puzzlephone proves to be an interesting and ambitious project which could revolutionize the mobile industry in basing it more on sustainability and step-by-step evolution as opposed to more and more different devices we see every year. Only the public can say if this project will become a success or fade in oblivion.
ARA prototype is closer to fruition than ever as a new video shows working bits and pieces put together to form a possibly futuristic smartphone. The modular and piece-upgradeable phone is back with exciting news after the bomb which was the possibility of hot-swapping modules with the device still on (thanks to modified Android Lollipop version).
Phonebloks recently showed its progress with the Ara phone and it looks like an updated version of the prototype seen at Google I/O earlier this year.
It appears that Ara is not the only modular project in development, as a second prototype codenamed Spiral 2 is being worked on at the moment. It appears that chips from Toshiba could downgrade the space required on modularity to below 50%.
It appears that Phonebloks is working on producing a viable device for 2015 and the components of the entry-level device will cost between $50 and $100 dollars.
At the Ara module Developers Conference in January more details regarding Spiral 2 will be disclosed as well, along with the possibly new Ara version. The first event will take place on January 14th in Mountain View and it will be followed by similar happenings in London, New York and Buenos Aires and a second event will be held on January 21st in Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei and Shanghai.
You can apply to participate at one of the events and you have until November 26th to sign up. In case you’re picked you will find out by December 2nd when you will have to pay a $25-$200 fee as well.
Project ARA is making progress and its next step seems to be using a modified version of Android L which supports hot-swapping all modules except for the Screen and CPU ones. Google is trying to make the impossible possible and does not give its LEGO smartphone project go away. New details were released recently by project head Paul Eremenko who says the module can be taken apart while it is active.
Project ARA is, in essence, the perfect phone made out of modules you can add or replace as you want. Those who want a better camera, a better screen or more storage space and add better modules can give up other modules which represent features they don’t usually need.
Eremenko says that Ara will function on a modified Android L version which enables modular hardware to be used and interchanged. The device should allow module swapping while the phone is running – only the CPU and screen cannot be exchanged in this instance. RAM can’t be changed all at once and the main storage will not be able to be swapped while the device is running either.
In order to make project Ara reality, Google is working with Linaro, an open source engineering firm, to design the Android version needed by the device. It appears that modules will be sold in online stores where customers will be able to create the phone they want as they go. The first working version of the Ara device could be shown in December, at a dev conference, and the product may become viable on the market in 2015.
Phoneblok or ARA phones are closer to reality than ever! At I/O 2014, Google’s ATAP team unveiled an Ara prototype that may just turn out to be the next best innovation in mobile technology. Collaborative Ara teams presented an interesting hypothesis at the convention by asking the audience if they can envision a mobile phone seeing in the dark or testing for clean water. The answer could be the Ara phone, an innovation that is meant to be on par with other Android products on the market.
The prototype shown off is an Ara Spiral mobile phone with its swappable modules and bits running on and Android OS. The phone presents exposed wires and plastic modules and it appears to be powered via a manual switch. The presentation manifested in an attempt to boot the OS on the device but, sadly, it crashed. It appears that, even if the prototype is far from being ready for production, Google has been working on making this real just to show the world it is possible.
Google wants developers from all over the world to give their input in transforming this prototype into a decent device for the niche market. Two new programs will assure developer hardware being sent on a regular basis and awards given to developers who bring the most promising ideas on the table.
At the moment, the hardware send-out program is pretty limited as hardware pieces are scarce, but if you manage to impress one of the three Google boards (UniPro switch Board, application processor based on the TI OMAP 4460 chip board and an unique applications board), you could be receiving some hardware to test at your leisure this fall. This challenge offers a fleshy prize of around $100.000 to the developer who brings the best idea for a new Ara module.
Ingenious developers can submit their proposal in a five-minute video by September 1st. Not just the best gets a price as the second two best tinkers will receive a paid future trip to the Ara developer event. You can check more details regarding this competition HERE!