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Google's Project Ara opens to developers, the developer's kit for the modular phone is also released

Posted: , by Peter K.

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Google's Project Ara opens to developers, the developer's kit for the modular phone is also released
Chances are that you have already heard about one of Google's most curious projects, Ara. Its aim is to develop a phone that consists of an endoskeleton and interchangeable hardware modules. Just the other day we passed on the information that the researchers at Project Ara will most probably have a working prototype of the intriguing device as soon as the next month. What's more, the team behind Project Ara today released the first Module Developers Kit (MDK), which gives us further insight into the technical components of the modular smartphone. It was also announced that the first Project Ara developers' conference will take place next week.

According to the freshly-released MDK, the endoskeleton of the modular device is nicknamed “endo” and comes in 3 different sizes. The largest one (which will be released sometime in the future) will sport a 4x7 parceled grid, whereas the medium-sized endo will have 3x6 grids in tow. The smallest endoskeleton will come with a 2x5 grid. It is also stated that each endo will have a single spine with multiple ribs coming out of it. These ribs will provide structural support for the blocks.

Due to some limitations to the mainframe, the maximum size of a rear module for the Ara phone will be 2x2 grids. Some very small 1x1 modules won't fit on the largest endo, whereas the biggest 2x2 blocks won't be compatible with the smallest Ara mainframe. The 1x2 modules will be available across the three variants and Google states that they can be inserted either vertically or horizontally on the endo.

The locking mechanism for the front modules has also been revealed. They will rely on a prototype ball-spring plunger.

It also becomes clear that Ara users will be able to make use of one or more batteries simultaneously and – everyone, rejoice! – even “swap a depleted battery with a fresh one without powering off their phone”. As if this is not enough, it is also stated that all module batteries can be charged while being snapped onto Ara's endo at the same time, as well. Well, how cool is that!

The team hopes to create a complete MDK guide for module manufacturers by the end of 2014. We can only hope that a fully-working Project Ara device will be released shortly after.

  • Options

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 08:40 6

1. PunyPoop (Posts: 752; Member since: 18 Jan 2013)

I love this! Might get one! Thank you google :)

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 13:20 2

15. rihel_95 (Posts: 301; Member since: 21 Mar 2012)

Its only because of Google and Phoneblocs, I am seeing so much development in so little time

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 08:43 4

2. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)

Google has the future in mind.
This is outstanding work, Project Ara.
Too bad Nokia wasn't on board now instead of later.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 10:47 1

8. boblight (Posts: 84; Member since: 28 Jul 2012)

Come on. This article has nothing to do with Nokia or whatsoever. So lay off the bashing and enjoy some glimpse into the future.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 12:21 4

11. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)

Grab a brain, wanting them included is the opposite of bashing!

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 13:16

14. brrunopt (Posts: 742; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)

Project Ara was not created by google, is a creation from Phonebooks and a Motorola project..

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 17:03 3

17. hurrycanger (Posts: 1626; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


posted on 10 Apr 2014, 13:24 3

16. elitewolverine (Posts: 5192; Member since: 28 Oct 2013)

it wasnt google who started the project though, but nonetheless they saw the potential and kept with it.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 08:57 2

3. Cyan3boN (Posts: 446; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

Looks promising, hope the device stays thin after fitting all the modules. It also reminds me of the Razer prototype, "project christine".

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 09:23 3

4. marlboro (Posts: 94; Member since: 27 Mar 2014)


posted on 10 Apr 2014, 09:40 5

5. UglyFrank (Posts: 1940; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)

Hopefully it wont be similar to 52 Card Pick Up or pour a box of lego on the floor

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 10:18 4

7. joey_sfb (Posts: 6632; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

If its in pieces chances is that I could put it back or replace only the damaged parts much like my diy custom PC.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 23:45 1

23. vincelongman (Posts: 5082; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)

I love building PCs, so nice not having to compromise like on consoles
Can't wait to do so on phones

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 11:22

9. dbdrummer88 (Posts: 29; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)

Something I have been wondering about is how the built in or onboard memory works. Is it in the endo? Or is it a 1x1 module? I think it would be awesome to put some pieces together to make the smaller phone when you are on the go or traveling, and having the medium or bigger phone when at home. I will definitely be getting this right when it comes out!

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 12:46 1

12. marlboro (Posts: 94; Member since: 27 Mar 2014)

autobots??? TRANSFORM!!! haha!

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 11:44

10. dbdrummer88 (Posts: 29; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)

Also, this is a good move to get the MDK out a few days before their conference. This should hopefully give the manufactures and companies time to look at it and become more knowledgeable about the setup and everything else. They then should be able to ask tougher questions to google when they get together.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 13:04

13. Commentator (Posts: 3722; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

I'm loving the Mini, but I'm curious as to the SIM placement. Would it go in the endo or a module?

posted on 11 Apr 2014, 01:05

24. PeterK. (Posts: 314; Member since: 13 Nov 2013)

Probably there would be a dedicated module, so users can choose not to benefit from celullar service or data and use Wi-Fi instead.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 18:34 1

18. serrano989 (Posts: 39; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)

I hope they make a case or bumper of some sort. If that thing hits the ground hard, those blocks will shoot everywhere.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 19:53

19. garyII (Posts: 160; Member since: 26 Feb 2014)

medium will be perfect ! but really do hope that the camera can be much slimmer despite realizing the difficulty of putting a compact circuit inside a small casing module...

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 20:13 1

20. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 1157; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)

lol 21:9 smartphone (5th picture, labeled 'A')

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 20:19

21. fireblade (Posts: 717; Member since: 27 Dec 2013)

Nice concept. But, first make a modular laptop first. Today's laptops suck because we can't upgrade the CPU, only change the RAM & HDD.

posted on 10 Apr 2014, 20:44 1

22. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)

Just hope GOOGLE will launch this by year end and have a price tag. this is simply awesome. building your own phone instead of happened to buy a another one

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