Project Ara was supposed to go into public testing last year, but that didn't happen. Google has been quiet about the state of its modular smartphone since then, but now there's a new demo video. It shows off some weird modules, but what about a release date? Well, there's nothing for regular people, but a developer edition will be available this fall.
Remember Project Ara? We haven't heard much about it since Motorola revealed its existence back in October, exciting us with the real possibility that one day we will be able to effectively build and customize phones to suit our tastes. As it turns out, the Advanced Technology and Projects team (now owned by Google) is still working full-steam ahead. Today they've announced the first Ara Developers' Conference, which will take place online from April 15 - 16th. Registrants will get to ask questions and participate via a live webstream, and a select few are invited to attend in-person at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
Google may have just sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, but it seems the giant may have kept one of the manufacturer's juiciest pieces (besides patents) to itself.
According to Pocket-lint, Lenovo has confirmed that Google will be keeping Moto's Advanced Technology and Projects group, notably responsible for Project Ara, the modular phone project announced in October in collaboration with Phonebloks, and other experimental ventures.
The team, led by former DARPA Director Regina Dugan is said by the Verge to be heading to Google's Android team, reporting to Sundar Pichai. Readers may remember seeing other Motorola experiments during an interview with Dugan at last May's D11 conference, including electronic authentication tattoos and microchip-toting pills.
Quick reminder: the modular smartphone is a real thing that's really happening. Motorola blew our minds with the announcement of a plan to create modular phones not totally unlike the Phonebloks concept, and now the manufacturer is one step closer to making some real hardware. 3D Systems, makers of the Cube 3D printer and similar equipment, is Motorola's first partner on the Project Ara.
So what does that mean? Motorola needs some way of adding flexibility to a traditionally rigid manufacturing process, and 3D printing would seem to be a natural solution. According to the press release, 3D Systems will be Moto's "exclusive fulfillment partner" for both Ara enclosures/frames and the individual modules that make up the replaceable hardware components, assuming there are no major issues with the development phase of the project.
As we're all still trying to come to grips with Motorola's newly revealed modular phone platform known as Project Ara, the folks at Phonebloks aren't missing a beat. They've uploaded a new video that explains a bit more about how they teamed up with Motorola. Also, there's a quick peek at Project Ara.
When Phonebloks started talking to companies about how to make the concept real, the Phonebloks guys found Moto was particularly interested. Suspiciously interested, actually. That is, of course, because project Ara had been in development for a year at that point. The Phonebloks guys went out to take a closer look, and apparently were impressed with the open approach Motorola is taking with Ara.
Remember Phonebloks and how we all had a good laugh about how unworkable and idealistic it was? It turns out Motorola has been working on a similar project for the last year, and it's called Project Ara. This is really happening.