When Google first came to market with the Android mobile operating system one of the company’s strategies behind the open source software was to make it available to not only programmers but also phone manufacturers. This would help to expand their exposure and growth in the quickly emerging market. And this is why you can find the Android operating system running on phones made by Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, HTC, and more.
But Google does, at times, release native phones running on the latest Google Android software. And it looks like they have a new model in store: a modular phone called Google Project Ara. Last week, at its I/O developer’s conference, Google announced that by this coming fall, developers will be able to get their hands on the device to begin their initial tinkerings.
What is most important about Project Ara, though, is not just that ti will provide developers with yet more ways to program new software, but this is Google’s version of the Phonebloks project. The purpose of the Phonebloks project was to make modularity more of a standard feature, not just software. This concept innovates phone design by making a single phone highly customizable: users do not necessarily need to upgrade their phone every few years. Instead, users can add and remove different physical features from the phone’s frame to change the way they use it.
For example, users could opt for a larger battery if they constantly find that the base battery just isn’t enough power for their long days. Or a user could, perhaps, opt for a better camera, for obvious reasons. Crack your screen? Just get a new one—and slide the old one out and the new one in with relative ease. Similarly, you could upgrade your screen resolution, etc, using the same strategy.
Of course, this is great for the user, as it makes upgrading your phone more personal and, hopefully, more affordable. Users can upgrade their phone as they see fit or as necessary (when your batter inevitably craps out, for example). But this is also a great thing for developers as they can develop new add-ons for the module—as well as the associated software—in order to address whatever consumers want at any given time. At the same time, this approach could be expensive—at least at first—but that might be something addressed before the modular phones reach consumers, probably at some point in 2017.