Although Google sold off Motorola Mobility a few months back, the company retained its Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. The same group is responsible for the awaited Project Ara which aims to bring modular smartphones in the market.
For those who have never heard about Project Ara or a modular phone, this particular project plans to make smartphone hardware open source and customers can literally build their phones from scratch. While the details about the project was scarce till now, the Project Ara developer’s conference reveals some interesting new information.
How Will It Work?
Users would have a base plate on which they can build their smartphone. The base hardware will be called as Endo and on the base; users can add features that they like via plug and play modules. These modules will most likely use strong electromagnets and would come in sizes that would fit into the base plate. These swappable modules can be anything from a battery, wireless radio to a display.
How much will it Cost?
The main aim of the project is to enable customers to build a smartphone according to their liking and budget. So, the price of a custom smartphone will depend upon the modules that it comes with. The company is planning to release a basic smartphone which starts at $50 along with a high end version of the same which will cost around $500 to manufacture. However, the real price, i.e. the street price of the handset may be much higher than the cost of production and the retail price will be determined by its commerce partners.
When will it be Available?
Google plans to release the first version of the Project Ara based smartphone by early 2015. However, given that the project is still in its introductory stages, it is still unclear as to when such modular smartphones will be readily available for purchase.
Who will develop these hot swappable modules?
Like Android and many other platforms, developers are the core of modular smartphones. With the help of the Module Developer Kit (MDK) released by the company today, these developers will create unique and hot swappable modules for the base plate. Hence, the success of the project depends on the kind of modules these developers manage to create.
What Operating System would such modular smartphones run?
Given that it’s Google who’s heading the project, these modular smartphones would run on Android. Unfortunately, the platform does not support modular phones as of now, but the company plans to add support for it in the upcoming updates.
If Project Ara turns out to be a success, customers would never have to replace their smartphone to keep up with technological upgrades, as the process of adding a new feature like a finger print sensor would be as simple as replacing or adding a new module to your existing base hardware.
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