So. The Google Developer Conference is over, and with it has come some pretty huge news. Project Ara is alive and kicking. We might see consumer models of Ara phones releasing as early as next year! So what is Project Ara? Well, it is Google’s plan for a modular phone, introduced 2 years ago but thought buried beneath all of the other things the company was working on. There were many delays and holds on the project, and no one really thought that it was still being worked on. Until now, that is.
What Is A Modular Phone?
Well, the premise of the project is that Google wants to make phones that are as easy to modify as changing the parts of a set of Legos. A phone with parts that can be swapped out for upgraded versions as and when they release. Phones which can have modules specialized to the needs of each specific user. This has huge implications for the current smartphone market. Would you pay hundreds of dollars to upgrade to a newer phone model for the better camera, or less than a hundred for a better camera module on your modular phone? The answer is pretty obvious.
The Journey Taken By Ara
Initially designed as a concept by Dave Hakkens, Motorola and the designer started working on the idea in 2013. At the time, the company was owned by Google, and a new prototype of the Ara phone was shown off by Google in January 2015. They were immediately open to new designs by developers outside of Google companies. Studios such as Lapka started designing prototypes of health modules for the phones, monitoring things like blood sugar levels, heart rates and the quality of air in the atmosphere.
All of the designed components are to be held in place by magnetic holders and connectors, rather like the magnets used in the chargers for iPhone and MacBook right now. These magnets were initially to be placed on the modules themselves, but have now been moved to the body of the phone, meaning that it will be far easier for developers to take advantage of design specifications.
What Are The Limitations?
The problem with Project Ara phones is that they probably won’t be easy to obtain. You might be excited after the conference, but getting your hands on one isn’t going to be as simple as preordering one off the Google Play Store or your local department store. Project Ara is only being launched in certain cities and for certain people, until retail versions are ready for release.
So How Do I Get One?
If you are wondering where to get Project Ara phones, you have to understand that it is only out for developers right now. The current model that was revealed at I/O 2016 is still only a prototype. However, designers from third-party companies have now been invited to share in the Ara experience, by building their own modules for the smartphone. After some more testing has been carried out, developer models will be shipped out in the Fall.
The initial launch location is to be Puerto Rico, and you can only get a phone if you are a registered developer, or a tester for Google products. The short answer for where to get Project Ara phones THIS year is that there are no ways unless you are a developer yourself. If you aren’t, your only choice is to bide your time until the phone launches for the retail market some time in 2017.