Google Delays Project Ara Modular Smartphone Launch To 2016

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Google Tweets indicate Project Ara trial in Puerto Rico is postponed

Google has confirmed its Project Ara modular smartphone concept will not launch in 2015, with a trial in Puerto Rico now postponed.

No reason has been given for the delay, but a series of Tweets from the Project Ara team suggest Puerto Rico will no longer be the location of the trial and that other locations in the US are being scouted out with a view to launch in 2016.

“Where are we headed next? We are looking at a few locations in the U.S,” said the team on Twitter. “When? 2016. Why? Lots of iterations… more than we thought.”

Project Ara

google project ara componentsDetails of the pilot had been sketchy, but the Caribbean island had been chosen due to its relatively small population the fact its underdeveloped landline infrastructure means that 77 percent of locals use mobiles as their primary communication device.

TechWeekEurope has contacted Google for more details, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Project Ara was first announced by Motorola Mobility in 2013 and is envisioned as a free, open hardware platform that will allow users to create highly customised smartphones.

Modules such as displays, cameras and storage can be changed by simply snapping off one module and replacing it with another. This would allow users to incrementally improve their smartphones, reducing waste and the cost of upgrading.

The project was not included as part of Lenovo’s takeover of Motorola in 2014 and is now under the remit of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) lab. Google has held a number of developer conferences and showed off Project Ara at Google I/O in May.

Toshiba has shown off early reference designs for camera modules and is working on eight and 13 megapixel rear sensors as well as a two megapixel front facing lens. The company told the Modular Smartphone Forum that it also plans to create designs for wireless charging, NFC and external memory. However it is not believed any of the modules will be commercially available until 2016.

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Project Ara

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