Google Will Give Developers a Lesson in Modular Smartphones in April

The alpha version of the Project Ara MDK (module developers’ kit) will be unveiled by Google on April 15-16, at the first Ara Developers’ Conference.

Motorola ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects), the home of Projects Ara and Tango, is one of the things Google kept after selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, the others being about 17,000 patents. The concept behind Ara was first presented by Motorola last year in October, and the project is said to also be based on several patents that Google bought from Modu prior to acquiring Motorola Mobility.

What seems to be the ultimate modular smartphone could turn into a nightmare for other smartphone manufacturers. Google wants to enable people to change the underperforming modules when new ones hit the market, rather than changing the entire smartphone, something that doesn’t seem to bother iPhone users, despite the exorbitant prices practiced by Apple.

Google plans to organize a series of three Ara Developers’ Conferences this year, the first one being scheduled for April 15-16. This is a sign that the search giant might not launch the modular smartphone before 2015, but even if it is so, the wait will be worth it. Let’s face it, Motorola under Google ownership did not really launch anything otherworldly, but Ara has great chances of being something revolutionary. It might be for the best that Google wants to launch smartphones under its own name, considering the weight of this brand.

One other thing that will set Ara apart from all the other smartphones, be them modular or not, is the price. According to the latest reports, the barebone smartphone will cost $50, while the price of the modules will depend on the capabilities of each one of them. Do you want a great camera, but don’t care that much about gaming and the smartphone’s GPU? Do you need a lot of RAM because you run a lot of apps at the same time? There are plenty of other scenarios in which Project Ara looks like the perfect solution.

Rest assured, Google’s Project Ara is not the only modular smartphone out there. Competition includes Boeing Black, Phonebloks and ZTE Eco-Mobius. I’m glad that this is becoming a trend, as it’s much better to replace a single module than the entire smartphone when new features appear.

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