Google has unveiled its modular smartphone based Project Ara and has announced it will launch its first beta smartphone, the Gray phone, under the project in January 2015 for around $50. According to CNET, Ara Project head Paul Eremenko has said at the first Ara developer’s conference that the company’s first Ara phone will be the Gray phone, which will come with modular components that can be swapped out or changed as per a user’s requirement. This will essentially be an entry level phone, which will allow users to customize it by adding modular components to the phone by paying extra for these.
According to Eremenko, “It’s called the Gray Phone because it’s meant to be drab gray to get people to customize it.”
Project Ara is intended to let people customize the hardware components of the phone easily. Google will offer these modular hardware components on an app store like Google Play. Google will offer several types of phone components for Ara phones. Google has mentioned that the phones will run on Android, and the company will release the required drivers to run the components in December. Currently, the OS does not yet have support for controlling modular components.
Reportedly, the Ara phones will support additional modular components for up to five to six years, and the components will stay attached to the frame via electro-permanent magnets and use the UniPro standard for communication between modules. This would mean that instead of buying a new phone to update to the latest hardware, a user will be able to simply buy a new version of a component and replace the previous one.
The company has scheduled another developer’s conference for Project Ara in July, followed by yet another one in September.