Facebook is secretly reviving Google's modular Project Ara
Many of our readers will probably remember Project Ara, Google's futuristic modular smartphone research project which got cut off from the branch before it could produce a single public prototype. And safe for Motorola's Moto mods, which sort of continues the idea to this day, Ara was the only major implementation of smartphone modularity, so its untimely death was taken as a sign the idea itself is doomed.
But while Google isn't interested in further continuing its development, Facebook seems to have quietly taken the reins of Ara instead. According to a new report from Business Insider, a secretive division in the company known as Building 8 is now employing many of the same people who previously worked on Ara, including one Regina Dugan, who previously oversaw the development of the Google project and is now head of Building 8.
The meat of the story, though, comes from a patent application filed by Facebook, which describes a "chassis and a plurality of functional modules that can be connected to the chassis," with intended uses listed being smartphones and smart speakers — which is pretty much exactly what Ara was before it was shuttered.
But since we've been burned before, we advise people to take the casual optimism route: even if such a device actually gets shipped, chances are it'll take many years before it becomes any good. This is especially so the case once you consider the fact that Facebook has little to no experience with hardware (no, Oculus doesn't count since Facebook had virtually no involvement in the Rift's development). Then again, it's nice to know that the idea once called "the future of smartphones" is still not completely dead.