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Google previews new modular designs as it tries to woo developers to Project Ara

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Google previews new modular designs as it tries to woo developers to Project Ara
Today was one of the bigger days for Google's Project Ara, but you might not have known it. April 15th marked the first developers conference specifically for Google's new modular phone concept. Google took the time to not only try to attract developers to the platform, but also to preview some new designs for modular handsets.

Head of Project Ara Paul Eremenko has said that there will be at least two more Project Ara developers conferences, one in July and one in September. But, Eremenko also talked about the overall philosophy of Project Ara, which is basically to bring the open ideals of Android to the hardware itself. According to Eremenko, one goal of the project is to "democratize the hardware ecosystem, break it wide open, basically disintermediate the OEMs, so that component developers can now have privy with the consumer."

We've already heard that Google is planning the initial device to cost manufacturers just $50 to build, although the final retail price is still unclear. But, Google also showed off some of the interesting design ideas that it has for the devices. Users will have access to the Ara Configurator (think Moto Maker), where they will be able to choose colors for the components, or even upload an image which will be printed onto the components to make up the back. There are even plans for 3D printed textures for the backings. 

Day two of the Project Ara developers conference begins tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon EST. We'll bring you the latest as it comes. 

source: Mashable & WSJ

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posted on 15 Apr 2014, 22:33 11

1. sriuslywtf (Posts: 278; Member since: 09 Jul 2013)


Reminds me of LEGO..
But hey! I love LEGO!

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 22:37

2. express77 (unregistered)


whats the specs?

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 22:58 13

5. pwnarena (Posts: 979; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


the beauty of it is you can choose your own specs. that's what being modular is all about.

i just hope you can also choose your own disply type and resolution.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 02:16

11. Scott93274 (Posts: 1358; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


I believe that there will be three types of frames for Ara varying is size. So it looks as though you'll have options on screen size when you buy the main component of the phone. Also, judging from images scattered all of the internet, it looks as though the screen is in fact interchangeable, so users should have a selection when it comes to displays. How much of a selection depends on 3rd party manufacturers, but as Ara grows in popularity, I would expect options in increase significantly.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 03:47 1

14. vincelongman (Posts: 1718; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


There are 3 sizes
Mini
114 x 45 x mm (~Nokia 3310 size) (display TBD, but rumored up to 4.3" )
Medium
137 x 68 mm with up to a 16:9 5.2" display (~Nexus 5 size)
Large
150 x 90 mm (~Note 3 size) (display TBD, but rumored up to 6.3")

More info: projectara.com/mdk/

I think its interesting that Google are also going to offer a 21:9 ratio screen

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 22:53 8

3. Tizen007 (Posts: 522; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


This will be a game changer in the smartphone market

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 02:05 1

9. Scott93274 (Posts: 1358; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


Not even just smart phones. I can see something like this having massive implications in the work place, and changing various industries. A fully customizable digital assistant, features can be switched out on the spot to give it various features. Camera, Cat5 network cable tracer, voltage reader, infrared camera, Long and short wave black lights, heart rate monitor, Blood sugar monitor (For diabetics). lol, one of the modules could potentially house several micro SD cards giving users for the first time ever the ability to store over a TB of data on their smart phone.

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 22:57

4. pwnarena (Posts: 979; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


or Google's attempt to dislodge Samsung's overwhelming Android dominance...

posted on 15 Apr 2014, 23:23 5

6. rns122112 (Posts: 49; Member since: 20 Jan 2014)


Google is going to make a huge impact with this idea in the mobile industry. Samsung Nokia Apple Motorola Microsoft Lenovo HTC are all going to be butt hurt. But watch out for $$$ hungry Apple to come up with something saying they did it first.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 01:55 1

8. Karriope (Posts: 95; Member since: 07 Jun 2013)


Ironically this was originally Motorola's project...

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 02:07 1

10. Scott93274 (Posts: 1358; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


I could see Motorola still supporting this though with modules that provide Ara phones with Moto X like features. They also have the best wireless radios in the industry so that could be something else they could develop to make money from Ara.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 06:35

20. rns122112 (Posts: 49; Member since: 20 Jan 2014)


I know Motorola had first dibs but they gave it up with the Lenovo deal

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 00:21 2

7. Scott93274 (Posts: 1358; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


lol, I tried to watch the conference live... it was waaaaaay too technical for me. lol

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 02:19 3

12. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


It's awesome to see Google not backing down from Project Ara, and in fact doubling down on it. It may not have a huge impact here in the states, but in other countries where phones are full retail price and contracts aren't a thing, it could make a gigantic splash.

Also, I thought of a simple solution to discourage component theft: each module has an NFC tag connected to internal circuitry that the user can program with a PIN lock. If the component is put into a different phone, the user of that different phone has to input the PIN or the module will lock out.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 02:40 3

13. Scott93274 (Posts: 1358; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


I'm going to have to disagree with you. I think that it could be HUGE in the states. always having an updated phone without having to buy a new one every year could save people lots and lots of money. Also, adding in custom features that allow you to tailor the device to your lifestyle I think would really be popular in the US.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 12:11

37. g2a5b0e (Posts: 2730; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)


I have to agree with Sniggly here. Americans, by & large, are just not into customization when it comes to the technical aspects of a device. I think that's a big part of why iPhones are so popular in comparison to other countries. They'd rather have something they don't have to tinker around with to get it where they want it. We, tech geeks, who frequent sites like this obviously do not count among that group.

Also, because most Americans still purchase phones on contract, they have the illusion that phones are so much cheaper than they actually are. Those people won't see the value in something like this. It may find a small following among techie, non-contract Americans, but that's just not a statistically large group.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 04:11 1

15. SIGPRO (Posts: 509; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


To bad Google bought it, i will not buy this device (i like it) but because of Android,
I realy dont like Android, tried it on 1 tablet en 2 phones! No Android for me aymore!

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 04:25 5

16. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Congratulations. All you have to do is wait for Microsoft to copy it.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 05:18 3

17. Scott93274 (Posts: 1358; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


I'm sure it'll happen, it's all that Microsoft knows how to do. but I wonder how long it will take them to develop their own.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 08:57

31. pookiewood (Posts: 626; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


Oh please! Google has NEVER copied anything. How about Android looking like Windows x iOS? What about Android now looking more flatter like Metro? What about Chrome laptops? To go way back how about Google search looking like Yahoo search when it first came out?

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 06:14 2

18. SIGPRO (Posts: 509; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


Why are talking about MS? Are you affraid of MS?
But this idea was not an idea of google!
And yes WP 8.1 is great, i dont meed a laggy freezing android anymore.
i own 1 tablet and 2 phones with android....but no more just a crappy os

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 06:21 1

19. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Oh hey, I guessed which OS fanboy you were. I'm so awesome.

Which tablet? Which phones? I'm curious.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 06:57

21. SIGPRO (Posts: 509; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


Asus transformer, experia T and experia P. Every new update makes them slower and slower. Even friends with SG4 are complaining. I will never buy a android device agian.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 07:17 2

23. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


It's worth pointing out that neither phone you mentioned is on Kitkat, has Sony's custom overlay, and neither have the best performance numbers. Hell, the P was originally released with Gingerbread. And I'm not surprised that SG4s are slowing down, because that's what Samsung's overlay does.

You're free to buy into whatever platform you want, but you're deluding yourself if you think you'll stay lag free on Windows Phone or any other platform. If you want to declare that you'll never buy another Android device, that's cool. Just remember that while your experience isn't unique, it also isn't shared by everyone who uses Android.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 07:50 1

25. SIGPRO (Posts: 509; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


That's true its my opinion and what i have noticed! With my 1020 and 1520 i dont have freeze or lag issues!
And i updated 2 days ago to WP 8.1 and yes its awsome!

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 08:11 1

27. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


I'm glad you're experiencing orgasmic glee at the fact that Windows Phone now somewhat has feature parity with Android and iPhone.

And your 1020 and 1520 are....that's right, way less than a year old. I can play that game too.

Hey, SIGPRO, guess what? My Moto X and Droid Mini are both lag and freeze free! And they're updated to Kitkat and it's awesome!

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 18:34 1

33. elitewolverine (Posts: 2102; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)


Ah the kitkat debate.

Being in tech I love getting the DAILY calls of kitkat ruining phones. So much so we have a document specifically for battery drain. Guess what even if an app had no issues with battery before, it can now drain your battery since it is using apk's from 4.3 and earlier.

Know how many calls I receive on windows update?

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 18:41

34. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


None, because nobody owns Windows Phones.

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 05:22

35. SIGPRO (Posts: 509; Member since: 03 Oct 2012)


WP sales are rising.........and i must say WP is a very stable OS compared to Android!

posted on 17 Apr 2014, 06:19

36. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Except there was a study done that showed that Android is so stable it has less issues than iOS 7.

And yes, WP sales are rising...because Nokia puts out ultra cheap phones. Sales of high end Windows phones which compete with Android flagships and the iPhone are not on the rise by any means.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 08:53

30. pookiewood (Posts: 626; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


Ha I doubt they'll copy this. Not because it looks bad or anything but why would they? Also so what if they did. PC's have been sort of doing this for years.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 06:58

22. RandomUsername (Posts: 562; Member since: 29 Oct 2013)


I wonder if this will be waterproof... It probably will be easy sealing off the modules, but what about the frame?

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 07:23

24. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 800; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)


I wonder if the casing of the modules can be changed without removing the module itself from the motherboard

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 08:07

26. lallolu (Posts: 253; Member since: 18 Sep 2012)


Now, we can choose our battery size.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 08:36

28. SAO101789 (Posts: 123; Member since: 10 Feb 2014)


Customize carl lense camera + multi sd card + big battery+ Big screen+ colorful layout+ latest android software = shut up and take my money!!!

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 08:52

29. pookiewood (Posts: 626; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


Not a huge Google fan and think that Google Glass looks dorky and weird but this phone concept looks VERY interesting.

posted on 16 Apr 2014, 09:42 1

32. Scott93274 (Posts: 1358; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


I love Google, but I can't argue that Glass looks dumb.

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