So Lenovo, you're not going to let Motorola announce its own stuff anymore, is that it? That certainly seems to be the take-away from the company's reveal at its Lenovo Tech World presentation in San Francisco. In between discussions of new tablets, augmented reality 3D design, and network tech, the much-leaked Moto Z flagship was announced at the event, along with the Moto Z Force. They're both coming in "DROID Editions" only to Verizon, at least initially.
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.
When LG announced the modular G5 at MWC in 2016, we were all taken a bit aback. Admittedly, there was plenty of reason to hold judgment - it seemed possible that LG had actually done something interesting and innovative with a smartphone that hadn't quite been tried before, and gadget-lust is an easy feeling to succumb to in the face of something new and weird. It turns out that the G5's "friends" were basically DOA as a concept, though, and there has been little indication that consumer response to the idea is even existent, let alone positive.
As we've said before, Phonebloks' concept of a modular phone built using swappable, easily upgradeable parts is as awesome as it is unlikely. Yet that doesn't mean we can't sit here, watch the company's videos, and dream. We have our eyes on Project Ara, Google's take on the idea, and we can't wait to see what comes of it. But apparently Phonebloks already sees this as small potatoes. The company doesn't want just a world of modular phones. It wants to see all of our Internet-connected devices utilizing such hardware.
The idea is that you could take a storage module out of your smart TV and stick it into a laptop, washing machine, or fridge in need of additional space.
Google's Project Ara might be the very definition of a geek pipe dream: an idea that makes a lot of sense, but isn't quite possible with current technology, being made real with applied engineering and creativity. Even with Motorola being sold to Lenovo, the Ara modular phone project is still full speed ahead at the Googleplex under the new ATAP team. Dave Hakkens of Phonebloks, who presented a very similar concept back in September, was recently given a tour of ATAP's progress. He was kind enough to bring a video camera along.
From an engineering standpoint, the coolest thing in the early Ara prototypes is the system that keeps the modular hardware components in place.