Google Shelves Modular Smartphone Project, Ara


Google Ara, the visually arresting phone that snaps together from discrete, swappable component units, has been put on hold, new reports suggest.

Instead of continuing with Project Ara directly, it’s now considering becoming a license holder or selling the project to a manufacturer, Recode reports.

Project Ara would have allowed owners to assemble their own smartphone configurations from separate modules — loudspeakers, cameras, extra buttons, even tiny video projectors.

But since May, when a stage demonstration at the annual Google I/O conference accompanied a promise of late 2016 availability for developers and 2017 for consumers, Google has decided to concentrate its powers on other hardware ventures, as Recode tells it: Chromebooks, Google Home, Android.

However, that’s not to say the smartphone market is without a modular alternative or too.

Motorola Mobility, which was part of Google between August 2011 and October 2014, had helped turn the independently-created Phoneblocks concept into Project Ara, and for its 2016 Moto Z line introduced Moto Mods, a hot swappable accessories range that includes a battery pack, loudspeaker, and projector.

Fairphone, like Phoneblocks a Dutch creation, launched the Fairphone 2 in December 2015; it is intended to be easily repaired by its owners who can replace its battery, display, camera, and more in a straightforward manner.