Google's Modular Smartphone Is One Step Closer to Being in Your Hands

Hardware for "Project Ara" ships to developers this month.

ByABC News
July 15, 2014, 2:03 PM
Google's first "Project Ara" phone is set to go on sale as early as January 2015 for around $50.
Google's first "Project Ara" phone is set to go on sale as early as January 2015 for around $50.

— -- Google's "Project Ara," an affordable smartphone with customizable and swappable features, is one step closer to reaching the public.

The search engine giant said approved developers will begin receiving Project Ara hardware by the end of this month, allowing them to dream up parts for the modular smartphone.

Details of the phone were unveiled at the first Ara developer's conference in April, where Paul Eremenko, head of Project Ara, announced it would go on sale early next year and retail for about $50.

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According to Google's Project Ara module developer's kit, users will be able to build on to a basic structural framework to customize their phone with different modules to design a phone with the look, capability and price that they want.

As new technology comes to market, users won't have to wait for a new phone and can instead just swap in the modules, empowering users to customize their technology.

Essentially, it's an a la carte phone and consumers are allowed to choose the extra bells and whistles they want to use or swap out on any given day.

"Ara’s success is predicated on a rich, vibrant, and diverse ecosystem of modules from a myriad of developers," Google says in the guide.

While the lower price point could make the phone more accessible to the developing world, Patrick Moorhead, principal technology analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, told ABC News he predicts Project Ara will also have an impact in tech-hungry markets where individuals' smartphones "mean everything to them."

"Some people will want modular and others will go thinner," he said. "I think the market will decide where it goes from there."

Developers interested in receiving Project Ara hardware have until July 17 to submit an application to Google for the first round. A second round of applications will be reviewed between July 18 and Aug. 17.

Requests will be prioritized based on a developer's experience and the strength of their concept, Google said.