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© google Electronics Production | May 23, 2016

Project ARA – to ship next year

The modular smartphone that looked like an impossible concept is closer to reality then one might think.
For about three years, Google's ATAP division – Advanced Technologies and Products – have been working on making the dream of a modular smartphone a very real consumer reality.

And it looks like ARA has made some real progress. At Google's recent Google's I/O developer conference (Youtube video - ARA presentation starts at 34:30), Rafa Camargo, the projects lead engineer showed off the developers edition of the modular phone.

The bigger slot can hold two modules or one bigger © Google ATAP
The phone comes with six modular slots and the user can put any module in anyone of the slots. To change/install a module for an other, simply just slide it in and it's set to work, no rebooting or hunting for drivers. Powering this is Greybus, a new bit of software in the Android stack. Greybus supports instantaneous connections, power efficiency and data-transfer rates of up to 11.9 Gbps.

Unlike the first prototypes where the user would decide on every part, the Ara frame contains the CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display, freeing up more room for hardware in each module. During the developer conference, Rafa Camargo made clear that the project is still based on the idea of an open platform when he said; "We want to create a hardware ecosystem on the scale of the software app ecosystem."

Blaise Bertrand, head of creative, got everyone real excited when he got on stage and said that they've been working on the consumer version of ARA; “It'll be thin, it'll be light, it will be beautiful and we'll launch it next year.”

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