Project Ara, Google’s modular smartphone, gets closer to reality, as new video shows

project ara launches 100k module contest to focus minds of developers

The team working on the Project Ara modular smartphone has released a new video. The three-minute film is produced by Phonebloks, the company whose project eventually was absorbed into Ara, and is a fascinating glimpse at how the phone is progressing.

Project Ara, in case you haven’t been following it, is a smartphone which can be specced up by the owner, using removable blocks containing key parts of the device. For example, you could choose to have a massive battery and no camera. Google is also considering multiple chassis, so you could take the brain out of a big screen device, and put it in one which is more portable, with no additional setup needed.

In the video, we’re shown the small modules being plugged into a development Ara chassis, when it’s explained that electro-permanent magnets will be used to keep them in place. These are super secure electromagnets which can be turned on and off, making it easy to swap components, while keeping them in place once they’re docked.

We also get to see the work 3D Systems is doing on Project Ara. Originally brought onto Ara by Motorola late last year, 3D Systems is concentrating on the casings and chassis of the phone. The components shown in the video have bright patterns, small images, and textures too. The impression is, the outside of Project Ara will be equally as customizable as the inside.

The head of design at Google’s advanced technology and products group also revealed the phone will keep its skeletal, Lego-style look, with which we’ve already become familiar. He says the modular, blocky style has been embraced by the team, and it won’t be hidden away under a cover.

Finally, we get a glimpse of the Project Ara configurator app, which lets owners browse the catalog of parts available for the phone, then play around with where they will fit on the phone. We’re also reminded that Project Ara isn’t going to be a high-end, incredibly expensive device. “Some of the people won’t have used a smartphone before,” says team leader Eric Gunther about the challenges the team faces, “so we’re trying to make the interface as simple and spatially intuitive as we can.”

Previously, Google has said Project Ara will be ready for sale in the first few months of 2015.

Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Computing

Ditch the background from your photos with these handy editing tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence, we'll show you how.
Computing

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Mobile

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Mobile

Apple's iOS 12.2 brings support for Apple News Plus and new AirPlay 2 features

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Mobile

Apple News Plus gives you access to more than 300 magazines for $10 per month

At Apple's services event, the company unveiled a new news subscription service called Apple News Plus. The service gives you access to more than 300 magazines and newspapers and costs $10 per month.
Mobile

Does the box for AirPods 2 reveal Apple's AirPower wireless charging mat?

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for March 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for March 2018.
Apple

Apple Pay will be available at 70 percent of U.S. retail locations this year

Apple Pay is growing rapidly, so we've built a list of all the vendors, retailers, and companies worldwide that plan to support Apple's burgeoning mobile payment platform or already do.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Computing

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy Fold pre-orders will start April 26, with shipment on May 3

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Mobile

Huawei P30 Pro is a gorgeous-looking smartphone packed with camera ingenuity

Huawei has kicked off the new year by launching the new Huawei P30 Pro and P30. With upgraded hardware, new software tricks, and some absolutely stunning cameras, Huawei's new phones are serious contenders.
Product Review

Huawei re-engineers the camera on the P30 Pro for stunning night photography

Huawei’s P-series phones place an emphasis on the camera. That’s why the company partnered with Leica on the camera tuning. The latest phone is the Huawei P30 Pro, and it must fill the big shoes of last year’s stunning P20 Pro. Is it…