Today at Google I/O, the company has a special session dedicated to Project Ara. Ara, Google’s modular phone idea, has been around for a long time, but it has been pretty quiet for the past several months. During the session, Google announced that not only is the project alive and well, but the first units will begin shipping out as soon as this fall.
Starting later this year, Project Ara devices will be making their way to developers in the Fall with consumer units shipping in 2017. They haven’t released specifics on the consumer launch, but it seems they’re definitely going all in on the project to get it out there as soon as possible.
So what’s new with the project? First off, we’ve got a revised design. The modules look a bit more realistic compared to past renders and there’s also a new connection system that uses latches to keep everything secured onto the phone’s frame. They all connect to the device through Google’s Greybus software and can work as soon as they’re connected. So yes, you can hot swap modules any time you like without rebooting. If you want to remove a module, head into the Ara app and pick which module you’d like to remove. Of course Google being Google however, you can do this in another way. Simply say “OK Google, eject camera module” and the phone will do so immediately. Google even showed this on stage in the I/O session.
The Project Ara website has also been updated with new information regarding all of these changes as well as more looks at the upcoming hardware. Excited? Well you should be! This is a major step forward for expanding the capabilities of our devices and if it ends up being anything like what we see in the video below, let’s just say 2017 is going to be one heck of an awesome year.