Back in March, we told you about Project Ara – Google’s foray into the world of modular smartphones. Project Ara will enable users to upgrade their phones without trading them in. With Project Ara, users will buy a phone kit that comes fully stocked with an endoskeleton and components such as a camera, screen, etc. Then, as specific parts become obsolete, they can be replaced individually instead of exchanging the whole device.
If you have a nice car, but you want to upgrade your wheels, you shouldn’t have to trade in the whole vehicle. Similarly, modular smartphones can be customized and tweaked one part at a time. This model should allow users to upgrade their devices more affordably over a longer period of time.
Google recently announced that the first modular smartphone kits should be available for only $50 in January, 2015. While Google will provide the base for the phone, it’s survival ultimately depends on how many manufacturers are willing to produce compatible modules. The success of the modular smartphone will also depend heavily on the creativity of developers, who will help to shape the user experience. Google still needs to tweak Android to support the modular components, so it should be interesting to see if the team meets its self-imposed January deadline.
Modular smartphones will take customization to new levels. Instead of just choosing a phone color or case, users will be able to pick the exact components that fit their usage needs. Components will be attached to the endoskeleton via magnets, and many of the modular pieces will be printed using gigantic 3D printers. In just a few months, we should see the first generation of the Project Ara device, so stay tuned for more exciting updates!