Ara logo

Earlier this week, Google held the second annual Project Ara Developers Conference. Project Ara, if you have not heard of it, is Google’s modular smart phone project. In a nutshell, Ara is a 100% customizable smartphone hardware platform. Not only can you pick and choose what features you want on the phone, but the colors and aesthetics are completely customizable as well:

Project Ara

Here is how The Verge described the project way back in April 2014 when it was announced:

Known as Project Ara, these smartphones would begin as simple skeletons that owners would have to flesh out with everything from a processor and display to a cellular radio and camera. Each of these pieces would be sold as a small square or rectangular block, called a module, which can be slid into and out of a phone’s skeleton depending on what its owner wants and needs — Google is even expecting to see some nontraditional cellphone parts pop up, such as an incense burner.1


On Wednesday, at the Project Ara Developers Conference 2015, we were given some more information about the project. Most importantly, Google is making ready a pilot program, slated for launch in the second half of 2015. The pilot program will take place in Puerto Rico, and the devices will be sold from, no joke, food-truck style shops. Jessica Beavers, a Google Marketing Executive, told NDTV the reason behind the selection of Puerto Rico:

She said Puerto Rico was chosen in part because more than 90 percent of households on the island of nearly 3.7 million people use a cellphone and 77 percent of Internet access occurs through mobile devices. 2

Via The Verge

Via The Verge

It seems safe to assume, then, that the Ara should be available in the U.S. sometime towards the end of this year, or the beginning of next year. It looks as if the base model of the device will be relatively inexpensive as well. Project Ara’s team leader, Paul Eremenko, said last year, “the bill of materials for a basic Ara handset complete with display, Wi-Fi, battery, and processor modules would run about $50.”3 As for the modules themselves, it is hard to offer a price with any sort of certainty. There are a whole host of companies that have been confirmed or have been widely speculated to be in on the project. Over on Reddit, /r/ProjectAra has put together a huge list of the known companies.

Take a look at this new promo video that Google released during the Project Ara Developers Conference 2015:

  1. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, “Project Ara: Google pieces together the first modular smartphone,” 10 April 2014  
  2. NDTV Correspondent, NDTV “Google Unveils Spiral 2 Project Ara Prototype, Pilot Program in Puerto Rico,” 15 January 2015  
  3. Rachel Metz, MIT Technology Review, “Google’s Modular Smartphone to Debut in Puerto Rico,” 15 January 2015