Google teases Project Ara "major changes and advancements" in January, and shows a device booting on video

Google teases Project Ara
Ever since Project Ara first broke cover under the guise of Phonebloks, many people have been very excited about the possibilities of a modular smartphone system. We haven't had a chance to see all that much of Project Ara, but it seems as though development has been progressing well. Now, Google is saying that it will hold two developer conferences for the platform in January, which will cover "major changes and advancements".

There will be one developer's conference in the U.S. on January 14th and one in Singapore on January 21st, and Google has already teased what it will be showing off. According to the video below, one of the major changes will be "Spiral 2", which is what they are calling the second iteration of the hardware. In Spiral 1, half of the space on the device was taken up with the components required to hold the various modules, but Spiral 2 will show off custom hardware from Toshiba that will cut down on how much space is needed, and allow developers more space on the hardware to work with. 

This all sounds quite interesting, but we're not sure how to reconcile this info with previous statements by Google. Google had said before that the first Project Ara hardware would be available in January of 2015, and could cost as little as $50. If this is still the case, it could be that Spiral 2 will be the first Ara handset to be sold. We're less than 3 months away, so we won't have to wait too long to find out. 

Also, we must say that it is awesome to see an Ara prototype booting up in the video below, but it looks like the prototype is still running quite an old version of Android. It looks like it is running Android 4.1, which is over two years old at this point. We can't say why that is, but we would still be confident that whatever is shown in January will be running Android 5.0. 


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41 Comments

1. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Way too confusing stuff. I doubt this will ever get to mainstream , but good luck!

7. buccob

Posts: 2968; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Hopefully it will go mainstream, since it is the best way to prolong your Smartphone usage life up to arond 6 years (their calcs) My phone is 2 years old and I am going nuts, I would love to be able to keep it and just upgrade internals, since the thing is a tank.

10. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

I dont think it will go mainstream since the general public is not knowledgeable in when it comes to tech like this But I dont care, I'm still going to jump at the chance to build my own phone It will probably be so much cheaper as well

14. Exempt1 unregistered

It can definitely become mainstream with the right advertising. They would just sell off like normal things, like a camera or SD card. But instead of going into the shop to buy a camera or SD card, you go in and buy a modular camera or SD card which snaps into your phone. I personally think it is genius and definitely the way forward.

35. irbaaz

Posts: 175; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

Its too simple to play with, start practicing with lego.

21. KillgoreTroutTime

Posts: 433; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

"prolong your Smartphone usage life up to arond 6 years (their calcs)"' ...While buying another part every 6 months or so. I know you think these means 1 phone a year, but in reality it means the average person will be spending much more per year than they currently do. This is a way to deal with those bad customers that just buy a phone every 2 years. they came up with a way to get money from those people more often and you are buying right into it.

30. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

This seems like the silly argument from console fanboys (fanboys, I'm not saying all console gamers) saying PC gamers need to upgrade every month Where are you getting every 6 months from? Sure if you want the "latest and greatest" parts, which wont be 100% necessary since they will be things like QHD, 4K, or 30%-50% faster CPU Just cause a new faster part is released doesn't your older parts will suddenly stop working Assuming you buy the same parts as flagship phone an Ara phone could easily last you 2+ years before you "need" to upgrade again

39. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Well lets think of it in terms of pc then. Currently my pc is old, it is running an old 940, yet running windows 10 right now. It has 4GB of ram. A game like MWO (MechWarrior online), could do leaps and bounds better if I had a better system, especially since I multitask a lot to the point 4GB is now not enough, even on win7 it wasn't. So if you are going to 'upgrade' every two years, what would be the 'base' price of the phone? 50$ like a 530? Or 300$ or 500$? Then when you want to get another part, like say a camera, will it be 50, 100, 150$, will the cpu be 50-100-150? This is built for pc like enthusiasts who are spending the cash to upgrade every year but like the pc (as I do my case).

41. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Not really a good comparison with PC hardware yet, since PC hardware is advancing much slower now, while phone hardware is still improving rapidly E.g. GTX 980 is ~10% faster than the GTX 780 Ti, while the Tegra K1 is about 300% faster than the Tegra 4 I have Nexus 5, none of the phones this year made me want to upgrade There's still many people with the Nexus 4 or iPhone 5 or S3 that still haven't upgraded yet Its totally up you if want to upgrade or not And its much cheaper to build a PC, e.g. mine was ~$700, instead of paying ~$2500 for what Alienware would charge I'm hoping Project Ara will be much cheaper as well It supposedly costs the OEMs about $200 in parts to make a flagship phone, though I guess that doesn't include R&D costs

34. laughmi

Posts: 283; Member since: Oct 28, 2014

I hope Google patents it otherwise the patent moron company will copy it and get patented first and then shout "I made it first". Google is Google. Google is technology (not an app drawer system alone full of bugs). Period.

13. g2a5b0e unregistered

I agree. Cool idea, but there is just not a large enough segment of the population that will care enough about customizing their phones beyond anything purely aesthetic. Like most people on this site, I consider myself to be a tech nerd & I have no interest in upgrading the internals of my phone. I'd rather buy a shiny new device every year. In addition, I wonder what effects changing out different parts of a phone will have on software. Every single phone in existence already has bugs, whether major or minor, with hardware that is built specifically for the software. I can't imagine what ill-effects changing a camera or a GPU might have on functionality.

20. sgodsell

Posts: 7354; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

There is a major flaw in your way of thinking. Not to mention the waste of older devices. If you can keep the majority of the same physical device. Then upgrade the CPU or the display when they come out. Add a new speaker, new battery, new WiFi or type of USB, and more. This is truly the way to go. It might take some time to get going, but there are so many great benefits in Ara, that its to hard to just ignore.

23. KillgoreTroutTime

Posts: 433; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

So many and yet you listed none. Perhaps you think you listed one or two? I certainly would disagree on those assertions of yours as being valid points. You're "wasting" just as much.

32. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

http://www.technobuffalo.com/2014/04/22/project-ara-5-benefits-to-googles-modular-smartphone/ Benefits of ara.... To say that project ara has no benefits you should've never been into assembling PC....

26. g2a5b0e unregistered

That's not a flaw in thinking. It's a preference. I like buying a new device every year & they won't necessarily go to waste if I give them to someone else or sell them. I don't have anything against Ara. It's just not for me.

2. B-power

Posts: 258; Member since: Feb 22, 2014

On paper this sounds awesome but I think it's for geeks and devolepers. Can't wait for full release.

3. engineer-1701d unregistered

what is confusing its simple this will be the phone of tomorrow and people will buy new camera mods and bigger cpu gpu mods

5. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Will have to wait and see after release :) Until then -www.plspetdoge.com

12. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Yea seem like build a PC But it seems like its literally as easy as Lego to put it together, instead of somewhat hard like putting a PC to together

19. Fazz1977

Posts: 153; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

Somewhat hard? Not really... somewhat easy would be more apt. Sourcing a phone these days is more difficult.

22. vincelongman

Posts: 5691; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Personally I found it really easy as well, my first build took me just over an hour all up, including installing Windows But I meant for an average person, who has quite poor tech knowledge, would probably find putting a PC quite hard But with this its literally as easy as Lego

4. LebronJamesFanboy

Posts: 671; Member since: Mar 23, 2013

How about you guys focus on making sure your nexus launches don't suck year after year.

11. 90ninjas unregistered

Because a company as large as Google has only one team working in an all-or-none fashion. Right?

24. Tziggy14

Posts: 624; Member since: Sep 02, 2014

Then why do nexus launches still stink despite Google's size?

6. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Can't wait for project ARA.

8. zacsaturday

Posts: 262; Member since: May 09, 2014

won't get ARA phone, but will get ARA tablet (for gaming)

33. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

There's no plan for tablet as of now...i think...

9. scarface21173

Posts: 683; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

I think this will be a concept device, but definatley one for the future.

15. shamatuu

Posts: 159; Member since: Nov 02, 2011

talk about lag. but i its a working progress so its be expected

16. Dominique3392

Posts: 10; Member since: Dec 11, 2013

Honestly the hardest part wont be getting it to go mainstream, the hardest part will be to get good chip manufacturers to support it ie. qualcomm nvidia even intel if thats what it takes because the consumer who will buy this phone is bound to be a tech concious specs guy

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