Even though Motorola was originally responsible for the Project Ara, the modular smartphone. The sale of Motorola to Lenovo has left Google in control of the entire project.
Ara is reportedly now overseen by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group which is in the process of finalizing the prototype for a modular phone. Since the project is moving along as expected, Time is reporting that Google will be looking to release the first version of Ara in Q1 2015 for just $50. However, the modular “phone” will be incredibly basic and will only ship with WiFi connectivity. Since the phone is meant to be built by the customer, cellular connectivity could presumably be added later in order for an Ara-based device to work with any carrier.
The first iteration of Ara is being called “Grayphone” and a person who buys the device will just be receiving the endoskeleton that holds all of the other modules in place. Modules will be crucial to any Project Ara device as they are what will provide the keyboard, connectivity, processor, etc.
Time is also reporting that under the control of Google’s ATAP team, three different variations of Ara have been produced. The first is a mini device, followed by medium and jumbo sizes. As the size of the endoskeleton increases, the more a customer will be able to do with the phone, resulting in the larger modular smartphones being much like the current phablets that are on the market.
Once Project Ara reaches a point where it can be released to the masses (which should be in 2015), Google is reportedly looking to setup kiosks around the world where customers will be able to choose the modules that they want for their phones.
As a result of the way that Project Ara functions, completely switching up one’s smartphone every year or two will be a thing of the past. Assuming that the modular smartphone concept takes off, people will simply be able to upgrade their phones piece-by-piece when something better is released or a current module dies.
Summary: Google is reportedly finishing a prototype of the first iteration of Project Ara. The first modular phone will be released in Q1 2015 for $50.
Image Credit: motorolablog