Google's Project Ara Modular Smartphone Ships To Developers Fall 2016

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Do you folks remember Project Ara? It seems like ages ago when we last talked about Google’s modular project that would allow you to essentially build your very own “perfect” smartphone and swap out components with ease. Want to swap in an always-on secondary display? No problem, just slide the module in place and you’re ready to go. Want to upgrade to a better camera? Toss in a new module and you’re off and running in seconds.

Well, we’re happy to say that Google hasn’t forgotten about Project Ara and that the Developer Edition will begin shipping this fall. In its current form, Project Ara can support six modules operating on a “Unipro” network that allows each to bi-directionally transfer data at 11.9 gigabits per second. Each module is hot-swappable and you don’t even have to reboot your smartphone to initiate a module swap. You will, however, have to go into device settings to first “eject” the module that you wish to replace. But if that’s a little too involved for you, you can use the “OK Google” command to eject a module.

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While the module concept seems to have carried over intact from what we’ve seen in previous iterations of Project Ara, the project is unfortunately a lot less ambitious now — or at least for first generation units. Instead of the display, processor, and RAM all being swappable modules, they’re all integrated into the basic smartphone frame for now. That’s a huge bummer, because easily swapping out a cracked display was one of the key selling points for Project Ara initially.

But many are still wondering why it has taken Google so long to get Project Ara to a point where it could actually ship (following the failed Puerto Rico pilot). As Wired reports, part of the problem stems from the need to create a module connector system that wouldn’t break or fail after repeated insertion or removal attempts. And Google wanted to make sure that it had partners lined up to ensure a thriving module ecosystem.

To see the latest iteration of Project Ara in action, check out the video below:

While the Developer Edition is set to ship the fall, consumers will have to wait until 2017 to get a taste of Google’s Frankenphone.