Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP), which Google nabbed from Motorola nearly a year ago in its sale to Lenovo, has been hard at work with Google trying to make the future, an impressive resume that includes building a global network of balloons to deliver internet and trying to convince us to strap computers to our faces. But one idea that's been of endless fascination is ATAP's Project Ara, Google's modular smartphone — and we just got our closest look at the project.
At Project Ara's second annual developer's conference today, the team revealed details on Spiral 2, the third iteration of the Ara prototype. Unveiling the new (and fancy looking) prototype was also somewhat bittersweet, as Google also said we shouldn't expect to own one of these devices any time soon. To make up for this classic case of gadget blue balls, they did give us some hi-res images to fawn over. Let the ogling commence!
So this is just a look at a completely barren Ara smartphone. Even the screen and front-facing camera/speaker are optional modules, meaning hypothetically you could swap low and hi-res screens in and out as you choose. COOL! But at the same time, there are many potential points of failure here. Factored in with the wear-and-tear of constantly switching out modules, it's no wonder Google needs a bit more time with this one.
A closer look at two back panels side by side.
The Ara smartphone is all about the modules. Previous modules include Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, camera, battery, graphics, storage, etc. Today, Google also announced new modules including extended battery life, a speaker, and a pollution sensor. Google will begin testing the smartphone in Puerto Rico and envisions selling these little guys out of food-truck-type vending stands.
Putting It All Together
This is the powerful idea behind Project Ara — the exact smartphone you want, exactly when you need it. Going on a long trip and need battery life? Swipe out for a low-res screen and extra battery modules. Need to take great photos at your kids soccer game? Get that camera module packed with megapixels. It's an ambitious dream to be sure, and one that won't jibe with everyone, but it's an idea worth exploring just to see where it goes.