Motorola wants to build a phone that you can upgrade and update yourself with detachable hardware modules.
Motorola has announced a new modular smartphone project that will allow users to update their phone by swapping in and out different modules that attach to an endoskeleton. These modules would cover everything from the keyboard to the display and the battery, to more unique modules like a pulse oximeter. Project Ara aims to bring the benefits of an open hardware ecosystem to all smartphone users with a phone that is built to last.
"Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it's made of, how much it costs, and how long you'll keep it."
To achieve this, Motorola worked with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens. Hakkens first talked about his concept for a modular, open source phone in mid-September. Since then, he and Motorola have talked and decided to collaborate (Motorola has apparently been working on Ara for a year) to a certain extent. Phonebloks and Motorola will still operate independently, but Motorola will take advice and input from the Phonebloks community while it works to develop Ara further.
Motorola hasn't mentioned a release time frame just yet. The closest it comes is mentioning that it will invite developers to start creating modules in a few months. An alpha release of the Module Developer's Kit (MDK) is expected this coming winter.