For quite some time now, Google’s Project Ara has been getting enthusiasts excited for the future of the smartphone. Forget about the possibility for having a larger battery or a better audio module to suit your needs, the idea of a modular smartphone has big implications on e-waste. While there’s a big second-hand market for smartphones around the world, the pace at which new devices are launched leaves a serious amount of e-waste lying around, many of it either too difficult to recycle or improperly disposed of. Earlier this year, during Google I/O 2015, we saw a fully functioning prototype Ara smartphone. On stage, they demoed the insertion of a camera module with plug-and-play recognition inside of Android.
A little while ago, the Project Ara Twitter handle came back online, with the promise that the team has been busy. It appears as though a focus on a pilot program in Puerto Rico was what the team was working on. Now though, it looks as though this has been changed. The Project Ara Twitter handle talks of a “market pilot re-route” but says to their Puerto Rican fans “nos vemos en el futuro”. Where the Ara team is thinking of launching instead remains to be seen, but they have promised more details will be coming next week. Either way, the idea of Project Ara becoming a real product, anywhere around the globe, even if just for a small amount of time, is exciting.
As Android users, we already have more choice than the majority of users out there, but the ability to customize not just the appearance of your phone, ala Motorola, but the hardware and capabilities is the thing of science-fiction. With the introduction of Alphabet as well, we could even see an “A is for Ara” announcement in the future, of course this could be wishful thinking. At the very least, any sort of pilot program is progress, and progress we didn’t think we’d see for a long time yet, so we’ll be looking forward to what the team has to share with us next week, and we’ll have all the news for you.