Remember Project Ara, the open-source modular smartphone hardware platform, looks like, we might see the first commercial device from the project in Q1 of 2015. According to a report in Time, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group ((ATAP), was earlier with Motorola) is just a few weeks away from a functioning prototype and is aiming for early 2015 release of the first commercial version.
The ARA team is working on three phone sizes – mini (basic), medium (mainstream) and jumbo (phablet-style) – determined by the size of its endoskeleton, or endo, which is going to house all the components. According to Time, the endo will be Google-branded, while rest of the components can come from any third-party manufacturer, given they support the necessary standards.
“The endo is an aluminum frame that contains a bit of networking circuitry so the modules can talk to each other, a tiny back-up battery and not much else. Everything from the screen to the processor to the battery is provided in the form of a module — the medium-sized endo has space for ten of them — which you slide into place to form a phone. In the first prototype, the modules use retractable pins to connect to the endo’s network; later this year, Google plans to replace that approach with more space-efficient capacitive connections,” Harry McCracken of Time noted in the report.
Time’s report also adds that Google is working to make the modules hot-swappable, so users won’t need to power off the device. Suppose, you need more battery backup as your existing battery in the phone is going to die, you can swap the camera module (if you don’t need that for the time-being) with a secondary battery and get the necessary power.
Google is reportedly looking to sell the Ara phones in various ways, including a so-called GrayPhone, which will be a $50 barebones version. This phone will come with an app, which will help consumers order additional modules for the device. It will be sold at convenience stores.
Other mode of selling ARA phones will be via mobile kiosks, where consumers will be able to assemble their desired smartphone.
Google will initially be releasing Ara phone in a geographical area rather than a global roll-out. So, those outside US should not expect to get their hands on a modular smartphone any time soon.
Source: Time (Must Read for modular smartphone enthusiasts)