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Project Ara denies everyone the modules they want

Project Ara, Google's modular smartphone that has been beset with delays, is finally coming. Google has set a release for a Developer Edition this fall, with a consumer device to follow next year. The bad news? The modules you want it for don't exist.

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Project Ara is coming, but not the way we wanted. / © Google

Google's Project Ara, to many, represented a way to defy in-built obsolescence. Instead of having a battery die after a couple of years and take the whole device down with it, or your CPU eventually becoming too old to run the most demanding apps and games, Project Ara promised a modular device that would allow you to easily swap key parts of the phone in and out, essentially providing a skeletal smartphone which enabled easy upgrades and replaceable parts.

Google had shown ambition, perhaps beyond reach, with the prototyping for Project Ara

Project Ara debuted at Google I/O 2014. Since then, there have been periods of eerie silence following failed tests, leading many to harbor significant doubts about the project.

Now, though, Google has dropped the A-Bomb and Project Ara will see a Developer Edition arrive in the fall. Great news, right? Google pulls it out of the bag.

Well, not quite.

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Lots and lots of modules, but how many will you actually want, let alone need? / © Google

The modular device that Google has now presented is a normal smartphone – that is a device with a processor, GPU, battery and screen – with the addition of six slots for interchangeable modules. In Google's words, this decision to house the essential components of the device permanently within the Ara frame frees "up more room for hardware in each module." Sure. But it also denies people the modules for which they would actually want a Project Ara smartphone, the same modules Google was gunning for not so long ago.

Project Ara has become a normal smartphone offering a range of colorful (and as-yet-hypothetical) accessories

Instead of being a device that you can upgrade the battery on, or slip a better processor into, or easily replace a broken screen on, it's a glorified way to accessorize a slowly dying phone with flashy components.

Chris Marshall
Project Ara is a glorified way to accessorize a slowly dying phone with flashy components
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Where Google had shown ambition, perhaps beyond reach, with the prototyping for Project Ara, what we're now left with is a glorified LG G5, whose modular Magic Slot allows for the attachment of peripheral devices.

Project Ara has become a normal smartphone with a range of colorful (and as-yet-theoretical) accessories. It's no longer the geek's dream smartphone with core hardware you can upgrade and customize. It has sacrificed a key component of the project's original vision, and you can count me out.

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Project Ara now represents little more than a more compact version of what the LG G5 already offers. / © ANDROIDPIT

Do you think Google has sacrificed too much to realize a Project Ara smartphone? Let me know in the comments.


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  • My1 3 months ago Link to comment

    well I think it may just be a step 1 and doing the REAL stuff someday in the future, but I am still sad about this.

  • This is why I hate Google. They just throw stuff to make media buzz. this, Google Glass and 10+ other things they discontinued... no vision but want media attention.

  • Alex R. 5 months ago Link to comment

    It looks weird and weak and unstable and plastic and can broke easily and smart phone is not a puzzle!!!for god's sake!!

  • Darcy 5 months ago Link to comment

    Disappointing but if you think about it not entirely surprising!

  • Srinivas 5 months ago Link to comment

    One of those products which were marketed as possible but now remain only as a work of fiction which may be manufactured some time in unknown future.....

  • Willard1 5 months ago Link to comment

    I've been keeping up with this project since 2014. When first reading about it, thought wow, this could be pretty dang cool. Now, I hope it changes for the better but it should probably just be shut down. As it will most likely not give us what we want.

  • Someone in another article's comment section brought up the idea that module's could theoretically be built to enhance the cpu/gpu of the endoskeleton's base components. I'd be curious to still see what was possible for Ara developers.

  • So what they're giving us now is an LG where the module snaps onto the back rather than slides into the bottom? Worthwhile spending for a brilliant framework in order to "future-proof your device" but now we have a base phone that will be racing the modules to obsolescence. Morons.

  • *sigh* So much for coolness. No replaceable battery counts it out of my consideration, above any other component.

  • Bummer. Seriously, that is a bummer. It's nothing but a glorified accessory.

  • all thats really needed for a phone is a decent camera, some good speakers and a long lasting battery
    im still looking forward to the release next year

  • Who knows what the future brings. I hope that one day we will have a Ara phone where you can change every module

  • Mark 5 months ago Link to comment

    I have felt the project was a no win from the start. I personally would not want a phone like what has been depicted in the pictures I have seen, it is ugly. I also never though they could pull off a truly 100% modular phone, with every feature being in it's own module. There would be just to many to fit in a reasonable size frame. I think the way LG has gone is the best way of doing it.

  • If you guys actually paid attention you've seen that the battery will be changeable in the final version and that they have plans to make the processor actually changeable too.

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