At one point in the Moto X rumor mill, we were led to believe that the phone would be modular. That's an exciting thought: the ability to design your phone based on a number of different components. Of course, what we have now is a Motorola phone that allows users to pick the color scheme, wallpaper, and custom engraving. Nothing modular going on here.
However, Google's quest to create a modular phone isn't dead at all, but resides as Project Ara in the company's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) arm. The group jumped on Google Plus on Wednesday to announce the first of three developer conferences in 2014, which will be on April 15 to April 16. A limited number of participants will be able to attend in person.
"We plan a series of three Ara Developers' Conferences throughout 2014," writes Paul Eremenko, Head, Project Ara, Google ATAP. "The first of these will focus on the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers' Kit (MDK). The MDK, which we expect to release online in early April, is a free and open platform specification and reference implementation that contains everything you need to develop an Ara module."
Eremenko reports that the conference will consist of a detailed walk-through of existing and planned features of the Ara platform. There will also be a briefing and community feedback sessions on the alpha MDK, and an announcement of a series of prize challenges for module developers. As the blog states, the number of visitors will be limited to just developers, whereas non-developers and Ara enthusiasts can watch via the live webstream.
So why go modular? Easy. This method could be cheaper. Presumably, you'd pick out the features you want in a phone that pleases the wallet, and the device would be assembled. Did one of the components stop working? Go exchange it for a working unit. Ready to upgrade the processor? Take it out and upgrade to a better chip.
Of course, let's be honest here; this idea may be more of an enthusiast thing. Mom, Dad and the grandparents may not want to deal with a modular phone, optioning for the simple life instead by upgrading a normal non-modular smartphone every two years. Still, this Project Ara is fascinating.
"We're excited to take this next step with Project Ara, and see where the developer community takes the platform!" writes Eremenko. Agreed.