Project Ara started off as a pipe dream under Motorola’s Advanced Technologies and Projects division and as Phonebloks, a very ambitious kickstarter project. Now, it’s run by Advanced Technologies and Projects division, which has been taken over by Google in partnership with the people behind Phonebloks. The aim of Project Ara is simple: to create a phone which user can customise and personalise to fit their needs with one catch – you’ll never need to buy a full device to keep up. The ambitious project breaks our everyday smartphones down into different, interchangeable components which users can then purchase separately and customise to their liking. These modules would then be attached to a central frame called the “exo” which will be available in two different sizes.
There has been a relative lul in the information coming out from the team behind Project Ara and Phonebloks. The last we heard from them, they highlighted some key advancements in Project Ara – the first being a new phase in development that they referred to as a “design spiral” and also some setbacks that they have faced.
However, we are getting another update from the team which comes to us from the Phonebloks blog. The first announcement that comes from the blog post is that a fully functional prototype will be shown at the upcoming Ara developers’ conference which is taking place in December 2014, though no firm dates have been provided. We also get some news of Google’s partners such as Foxconn, Rockchip, Quanta and Toshiba among others are already busy at work developing module with “innovative features never seen before”.
While those tidbits are indeed interesting and exciting, the best news coming from the team behind Project Ara is that the device will be running on a modified version of Android L. The team and Linaro, an open source engineering firm, have been hard at work modifying Android L to accommodate the hot swapping of the modules without needing to power down the device. According to the post, the modification have made it possible to swap all modules except the Processor and the Display will be hot swappable. Of course, we expect that the battery module will not be hot swappable – for obvious reasons. In addition, Project Ara modules will be sold on an online store not unlike the current Play Store.
The post also leads us to believe that the next few months will be an extremely crucial phase in the development of Project Ara. The team indicates that there will be more news coming in the coming months.