Project Ara is one of this year’s extremely hot topics. That’s not that surprising when you consider there is no device which steps away from the ‘norm’ as much as this one. If you think Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge was strange then it has nothing on Google’s Project Ara smartphone. For a very brief recap on Ara this is what is known as a modular smartphone. In short the smartphone will not be a single entity but instead will be a hot-swappable mishmash of modules. When the device launches (expected next year) you will simply purchase the endoskeleton. On its own this won’t do so much but you will be able to buy the modules and simply plug-and-play the modules to create the smartphone you want. The modules will basically be what we think of as features on current smartphones. For instance, there will a module for the camera, the internal storage and all other features. As such you will be able to customize the hardware of your device as well as Google’s wide customization of software. If you want two camera (or three, or four) no problem. The only limit to the number of modules will be how many that fit into the device.
Beyond this, the details on how modules will be available was rather limited. However, Paul Eremenko (who heads up Project Ara) during a Purdue Presidential Lecture gave some more information on module buying. In short it seems Google are very much planning to introduce a modular marketplace. This will be loosely based on Google’s Play Store and consumers will be able to directly purchase the modules they want. In addition, Eremenko hinted that the modular marketplace will also include the ability for consumers to review, comment and leave user ratings on the hardware modules (again similar to play). On a very last note Eremenko also noted that the marketplace will also allow third party developers to create and add their own modules to the marketplace to be sold.
However in contrast to the Play Store, Endenko did point out that there will be more stringent regulations developers will have to adhere to with third party modules both being tested by Google and self-certified. In Endenko’s words we want to make sure the modules don’t overheat, fry or “melt your brain”. So what do you think? Are you looking forward to a hardware marketplace based on the Google Play platform? How successful do you think Ara in general will be? Whatever you think, leave a comment and let us know. You can watch the full interview below but be warned its over an hour long and there is a lot of talk about space travel. Go figure.