Liliputing, Ars Technica, and other sites are reporting that Google will be shipping the next round of Project Ara developer kits to developers this fall. This promise was made at Google’s I/O conference on Friday, and it was accompanied by a much less grandiose vision for a modular smartphone.
Rather than assembling every part of a smartphone from removable components, the core of the phone will be integrated into the phone. From Ars:
The Ara body contains a fixed CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery, and display. The Ara page says this “frees up more room for hardware in each module,” but it also removes Ara’s promise of upgradability. The modules will now be for the camera and speakers, along with accessories to the base smartphone like a fingerprint reader or an extra display.
The new model has a 5.3″ display and room for 6 modules. The screen, CPU, storage, antennas, and battery are not removable, but other components like the camera are removable.
In fact, one of the tricks shown off at the demo today was a voice command which made the camera module fly off when a Google rep said “OK Google, eject the camera”. (I for one love that feature; I am looking forward to doing it to other people’s phones.)
Otherwise you’ll have to use a software menu to tell the phone to eject a module; it’s not going to be quite as hot-swappable or plug-and-play as Google had previously promised.
So basically, the initial Project Ara promises were overly ambitious. Well, at least it still looks pretty nifty: