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Google’s modular Project Ara phone is shipping to developers this fall

Written by Jaymin Shah

It’s been a little while since we’ve heard much about Project Ara, but Google wasn’t going to let an I/O go by without shedding a little more light on the much discussed (and formerly Moto-centric) modular smartphone platform.

After highlighting the latest updates from Projects Soli and Jacquard, the company showed off an impressive working developer edition of the phone to an enthusiastic crowd of Google diehards, who were audibly excited at the phone’s plug and play capabilities. The device has basic smartphone functionality built into its frame, along with six modular “generic” slots capable of supporting any and all of the modules.

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Google engineering lead Rafa Camargo demoed the system by plugging a camera module in and taking a photo of the audience almost immediately. “Step one, plug in a module,” Camargo told the crowd. “Step two, use it.” The system will can eject the modules electronically with a simple voice command like “okay Google, eject the camera.” That one got arguably the biggest applause line of the demo.

The company is starting off with basic modules, including things like speakers and the aforementioned camera, but is already looking into non-standard phone functionality, helped along by an impressive list of co-conspirators, including, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba , Harman and E Ink. “It’s not just a smartphone,” Camarago told the audience, “but a purely modular computing platform.”

The developer version of Ara is set to start shipping later this year. The package includes the phone and “a few modules.” Google is also working on a consumer version of the modular handset due out at some point next year.

About the author

Jaymin Shah

Jaymin Shah is a tech entrepreneur. He is the Founder & CEO of TechOptimals. He has made a name for himself in the tech media world as a writer relentlessly covering Technology, in addition to a broad range of startups. Contact Jaymin at jaymin@techoptimals.com

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