Google aims to develop a platform for modular smartphones through the Project Ara. Engineers from Google and Motorola have been working for years on this groundbreaking project, but the idea is not a new one. An Israeli company launched on the market Modu, the first modular phone. The idea never materialized into a success.
Wednesday took place the second Google organized Ara Developer Conference. Paul Eremenko, the director of engineering at Google and the lead of Project Ara, said Spiral 3 is expected to “match or exceed the functionality of a state-of-the-art smartphone today”. Spiral 2, an earlier prototype design was launched last year in July. It had 3G service and some more interesting features. The Spiral 2 was Project Ara’s second version of Google’s Modular Development Kit (MDK). It offers a reference design for all the developers who want to make modules of their own.
The shells of Spiral 2 can be modified to user’s desires. Each module can possess its unique design. According to Eremenko, Google has up until now 11 prototype modules. The plan is to have 20 or even 30 third-party modules for the smartphone. The third prototype will abandon the SoC of Nvidia or Marvell. The new Soc comes from Rockchip. It will have a native UniPro support and Cortex A7 cores precisely designed for Project Ara. Although this new upgrades and technical improvements have been announced, the Ara phone is expected to consume 25 percent more power than a smartphone that runs Android.
He stated that the battery life for Spiral 3 will be a day-long. It will also support 4G LTE, improved antennas and a high-end camera. Another improvement is that the modules are hold in place by electro-permanent magnets. Now, unlike on Spiral 2, those magnets are fixed onto the endoskeleton itself.
There is more about Spiral 3 prototype. Google plans to run a pilot program in Puerto Rico. Modular smartphones will be available for the consumers later this year. The users can swap components like the camera, processor, the battery, instead of replacing the whole gadget. Paul Eremenko said Puerto Rico was the chosen testing ground thanks to its diverse population. He added that a global launch will depend on how the users in Puerto Rico will respond to the product.
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