Google’s modular smartphone Project Ara enters beta testing

project-ara

Google has announced out of 30,000 participants, 100 lucky winners will be chosen at random to get a Project Ara beta phone. The beta testing will begin this month, allowing Google to gain a good amount of feedback from users.

For those unaware, Google started Project Ara back when they still owned Motorola, who announced they would be helping out Phonebloks. The project shifted to Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group to finish the work.

It is essentially a way to create a phone built off replaceable modules, allowing the user to change one module in the phone, instead of changing the whole phone. This should lower electronic waste and will allow manufacturers to become more competitive against rivals.

This happened in the PC world when users were sick of replacing their whole rig, instead of just replacing one part. This has lead to building your own PC, something that is inconceivable on mobile, given all the different wireless standards and other electric experience needed.

Project Ara will be the first push into customisation, we are not sure how much Google want to change the manufacturing landscape. Manufacturers will have to make set components that fit into the Ara board, meaning some of the previous mobile components will not be applicable.

Google has a date set for the official Project Ara consumer launch, in March 2015. The team working on the project said they like to have three years devoted to one project, then they move on to another ambitious project.

Project Ara will reportedly be open and the board will be free for consumers. Google will most likely launch a store for customers to design their device, each component will cost a set price and will go to the manufacturer, allowing the company to set prices.

From what we have heard, Google will pre-load Android onto the Project Ara smartphones, no word on if Windows Phone or any Android variant/skin will be available to choose.