Ara phone with hot-swappable magnetic modules shipping to developers in Q4

Ara phone with hot-swappable magnetic modules shipping to developers in Q4
Project Ara has always seemed like a great product that would never actually become real. The release date for hardware kept getting pushed back, and Google reportedly had various issues with getting the modules to work properly. All that seems to be sorted out, and Google ATAP has announced that Ara phones will be shipping to developers in Q4 of 2016.

The announcement, during the ATAP session at Google I/O, might have been one of the best of the conference that not too many people saw. The first "wow" moment was Google showing off magnetic hot-swappable modules, meaning there was no need to reboot the device in order to switch out one module for another. But, what really got the crowd going was when the device was put down, and the presenter said, "OK Google, eject the camera" and the camera module popped out on its own. 


Google showed off high-res camera modules and storage in addition to more "personalized" modules. Modules were designed to show off your style, but there were also very functional ones, like a glucometer for diabetics to check blood sugar levels. Google announced a number of hardware partners for modules, including those who have never had access to mobile devices. The story being that Project Ara will be a lively and open ecosystem that could be very different from what we currently know about mobile. 

Google also used the phrase "future proof" a few times during the announcement, which makes sense, since upgrading would be as simple as buying a new module to attach to the base plate. We should get a lot more information later this year, because Google confirmed that developer hardware will be shipping in Q4 of this year, and claimed the consumer version would be available in 2017.


source: Project Ara

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53 Comments

1. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

Project ARA..... I really do like the Idea, I just wonder about drop tests on the phone. If the phone is dropped will all of the modules go flying?

2. Macready

Posts: 1817; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

No, apparently the electromagnetic connections are really strong and require no power to be active.

4. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Building on what Macready said, people have allegedly tried to forcefully remove the modules and were unsuccessful with the magnets enabled. It's all a very interesting design.

16. sgodsell

Posts: 7213; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I really want an Ara device. I love the fact that I can update the hardware to what ever I want. Including the processor, RAM, and storage using new AP modules. New camera comes out put it on. A new tango module comes out, buy it. This will also save on waste as well. Sign me up.

33. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Iirc Droid Life reported that the Ara phone will have the CPU, GPU, RAM, display, and battery be permanent parts of the frame. Everything else will be modes and swappable. So not everything will be pick and choose and swappable. But all things considered I imagine the frame will still be cheaper than buying a current smartphone.

9. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

And if one of the module break you just replace it not the whole phone. Apple would NEVER do this kind of phone as this would make them make less profit.

11. TerryTerius unregistered

Well, yeah. Google and Apple are fundamentally different companies. Google is much more willing to experiment in world changing ideas, whereas Apple is more incentivized by profit. That isn't to say that Google doesn't like to make money, but they seem more willing to engage in things that make life for humanity better in general.

36. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Yeah, iPod, iPhone or iPad were not world changing ideas... Nor the GUI (in Macintosh), the music store (in iPod), the app store. Of course Apple made a lot of money, but it did, because it's products were/are very good and they serve the user.

46. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

Its true, but they are not introduced anything new after 2010 except Touchif

47. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

Touch id

53. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

They bought the company that made it. It was the same company that made the atrix 4g fingerprint reader.

48. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Why should Apple be compelled to revolutionize the markets year after year after year? It does what it can and when it's not going to do it anymore, it's going to reinvent itself or die. What do you care about it's profits?

51. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

They weren't world changing ideas. They were world changing marketing campaigns. Apple didn't invent mp3 players, GUIs, or digital products. I'll concede they repackaged them very well, but they only did so to double the MSRP by throwing their name on it.

52. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Oh, you're right, after Macintosh adopted the GUI nobody else did it, that's why Windows and even Android are text based... Inventions are in the universal patrimony, but it takes a great idea to bring them to the people (and make money in the process). Look at Tesla: it didn't invented electricity, nor the car, but it took those 2 and used them to make it's idea come true.

54. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

You're missing the point that companies had adopted GUIs before Apple did. There were fingerprint readers on phones before iPhones, touchscreen phones before iphones, Siri was made by another company, so on and so forth. Tesla didn't make the first electric car either. You're mixing innovation with the public's attention span, corporations buying companies that do innovate, or successful marketing campaigns.

55. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I think you're confusing "innovation" with "invention". Innovation means taking ideas already invented by others and combining them to create new or different products that are world changing. iPhone was one of that, even though the were a lot of smartphones before it was built (Win Mo, Symbian, BB etc), the same was Touch ID.

56. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

I think I'm going by the stricter definition, as in the one in the dictionary. Kind of like there's a difference between revolutionary features and evolutionary. Only marketers use revolutionary on everything.

57. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

The M-W definition of terms is the one I have said it.

58. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/innovate Thanks for the sparring, though. It did keep me occupied :)

42. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

I think that's an unfair characterization. They both like profit equally, but one is a hardware company that uses hardware sales to subsidize their software. The other is an ad company that doesn't have to make money off the hardware or software because they data mine whatever has their software installed. Anything Google makes off hardware or software is just gravy on top of the data buckets they sell. Corporations are rarely altruistic, and I can safely say that none in the mobile industry are.

17. sgodsell

Posts: 7213; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Marorun, it's has nothing to do with profits. But whether the OS and ecosystem can support something like Ara. Android can easily handle something like Ara. IOS and it's ecosystem currently can not. Remember Androids apps can run on a multitude of different processors, because Android uses a runtime (VM), where as iOS and it's apps are compiled and optimized only to Apples hardware. It can't happen anytime soon for Apples iOS. Ah, the joys of a locked down platform with a locked down ecosystem. :-) Android ftw.

22. 444777

Posts: 399; Member since: May 02, 2016

Absolutely Android Ftw Apple Rip

26. AppleVersusAndroid unregistered

You had such a good unbiased post, right up until the end. Either way, it was still civil. Good way of putting things.

30. sgodsell

Posts: 7213; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Everything I said was 100% true in regards to Android, it's VM, different hardware, and it's ecosystem. Including iOS and it's ecosystem cannot handle something like project Ara. These are the facts. You can pussy foot around all you want, when developers make an iOS app, then it can only run on iOS devices. They can't run on x86 or OS/X. Why do think Apple is trying to push their Swift on its developers, because a 100% Swift app can run on OS/X and iOS devices. For that matter Swift's runtime even supports Linux. Especially since the vast majority of the SBC and IoT devices run some flavor of Linux. Apple has cut up Android in the past saying it's slow and laggy, yet Apple and their Swift is following in Androids footsteps. Even Microsoft is trying to do the same with their Universal apps. Here's a question for you, how long do you think it's going to take Apple to get their app ecosystem switched over to Swift? Its okay you dont have to answer. I already know since i am a developer. It's going to take years.

38. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

How much it took Apple to switch to native apps in Watch OS, 1-2 months maybe? How many developers will kill their AppStore apps if Apple decides to use a different coding language and how fast will they update, if Apple decides to ban their services and apps on the ecosystem until they do? edit: things are not as simple as I made them to be, but neither as hard as you have made them to be.

39. sgodsell

Posts: 7213; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

How much it took Apple to switch to native apps in Watch OS, 1-2 months maybe? Apple is not allowing its developers to submit new watch apps that are not native, and it starts this June. So the existing apps will stay. So a lot more time than your ignorant post of 1-2 months. Clearly your not a developer, and it blantantly shows. With Apples 1.5 million apps which took years to build. You think it's going to take little time to change over. Once again you are showing the world that you are a blind Apple fan, that was hurt by my factual comments. It would take years to change Apples existing ecosystem to become agnostic.

49. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

It's true, I am not a developer. If I recall correctly, Apple did something similar with x64 apps: it announced the developers that they have x days to move to 64 bit or their apps will be banned from the store. What happened then (they were way above 1 million apps in App Store at the time)? I seem to recall the apps were updated in record time, again a few months, not even a full year. The fk is wrong with you all? Why should anyone be a fan of a tech company?! I like it's products (the same way I liked HTC's or Nokia's products) and I will ditch Apple the very next day if fks up for me (the same way I ditched HTC's or Nokia's products), but not today, today I find it has the best products for what I need.

37. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

That's a funny assumption. It's like saying one can't use a lightning cable, produced by Hama, because iOS apps are compiled to run only on Apple hardware. Remember error 53 and do you know how it has been resolved? By authorizing the alien parts inside devices. Have you heard of people that had error 53 and who are not able to run all the apps in Apple's ecosystem? Because I haven't. So Apple (or anyone else for the matter), has no problem to implement a similar system, if it sees fit.

40. sgodsell

Posts: 7213; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

You are trying to bring up error 53 that bricks a users iPhone to an ecosystem? You really are out in left field. In any case it will take years to make Apples current app ecosystem to be agnostic.

50. Leo_MC

Posts: 7210; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

You missed my point: today I can run each and every single app in the App Store, even if I use non Apple hardware, connected to my phone. That's Ara - the frame to which one connects alien hardware - and that's why Apple would have no problem to create a similar device on it's ecosystem.

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