At I/O 2016 conference, Google showed off a new version of Project Ara and announced another developer kit for this modular device (called “Developer Edition”) due out in autumn. The consumer version has received yet another delay, however, this time to 2017.
Most of the modular promises have been toned down: now all the “base components” of a smartphone are built into the Ara body, just like a normal smartphone. The new Ara body, called “frame”, contains a fixed CPU, GPU, antennas, a removable 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 and other sensors.
Google showed off a working prototype version of Ara which lets you live-swap hardware modules — you can even say, “Okay, Google, eject the camera” to release the module.
The new Ara has six modular slots, each one is generic, so you can put any module in any slot.
Google listed a number of development partners working on these modules that range from giant manufactures to tiny hardware startups: Samsung, Panasonic, Micron, Toshiba, TDK, Wistron, E Ink, Toshiba, Harman, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, iHealth, BACTrack, goTenna and Cohero Health.