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Google unveils Project Ara, a 'modular' smartphone

2014-04-16 09:34 by
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Google Inc. is planning a "modular" smartphone that consumers can configure with different features, executives said. The company announced its plans for modular smartphone at the Project Ara Developers Conference in Mountain View today. The Project Ara kit will allow users-developers, for now-to swap components into an endoskeleton framework (the chassis that will hold the modular components together) by sliding them in from the side. The endoskeleton will accept different component modules, like a processor, display, battery, or camera, allowing users to make a phone comprised of different hardware from different vendors. The components will stay attached to the frame via electro-permanent magnets, and they will use the UniPro standard for communication between modules. Ara's endoskeleton will last for "five to six years," said project head Paul Eremenko. Ara phones will support Android, which is interesting, since the Android operating system does not yet support the drivers necessary for it to control modular components.

"It's true that Android does not support dynamic hardware today," said Eremenko. "The good news is that we're Google," he added, to laughter from the audience. Android drivers will be due in December, one of the last tasks that the Project Ara team will tackle before the public release.

Google didn't say how much it plans to charge for the phone and when it will be ready for consumer market.

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