Whatever Happened To Google's Project Ara

Expected to launch early this year, the modular phone platform is nowhere to be seen.

Whatever Happened To Google's Project Ara

Modu was one of the early brands to tease the idea of modular phones. Google picked-up this company and merged it with its Motorola Mobility team. The search-giant saw the future in this open-source hardware project, where upgrading phones would be as simple as playing with Lego blocks. Sounds excellent, right? Back then, Google made bold claims that the first Ara device will release in early 2015. Well, we are already halfway through 2015, and there's no sight of Ara smartphone yet. So can we still expect to see it or Google has been too optimistic about the feasibility?

According to pocket-lint.com, the project is still on. If the rumours are to be believed, Google will release Ara next month. Take it with a pinch of salt though, as the news comes from Yezz mobiles. The company claims that it is the first company work on the project with Google. Let's hope that it is not the only company to manufacture the modules.

The other possibility is that Google has given up on the project. This doesn't sound unlikely if you consider the fact that Ara's project head, Dan MakoskiIn, left the company to join Capital One bank last year.

There could be several reasons for Google to give-up on this project. First possibility is that the search-giant probably realised what started as the project to offer affordable phones, might turn out to be expensive in reality.

The concept involves endoskeletal frames that will be made by Google. To build your phone, you will have to buy modules for screen, camera, battery and so on. The problem here is that manufacturers today fuse multiple features on a single component and mass produce it for better economy. The way I see it, products coming off an assembly line are always going to be relatively expensive than the custom made.

Another happy realisation for Google would have been the fact that modular phones will be bulkier than the conventional phones. yes, what do you expect when each module is going to require some space to lock onto the frame. And hey, these phones will never sport a seamless look like existing handsets.

Image Source: TheVerge.com

Considering that you are going to use modules made by different manufacturers, fit and finish is another concern. Would you like a phone that lacks consistency in material quality and finish?

I'm also not convinced how Google is going to handle all these components with its software platform. After reviewing phones for years, I know it for sure that camera quality depends not only on the sensor, but how it is fine tuned with the rest of the hardware and more importantly the software. And just imagine, what impact it will have on software update cycle.

Tags : Mobile Phones, Modular Smartphone, Google, Project Ara