Project Ara presented on video at LAUNCH conference; new details revealed

As we barrel toward a hopeful 2015 launch of Google’s Project Ara, we’re starting to itch for more than just photos and loose talk about the project. Thankfully, Google is getting a bit more comfortable with the details and is starting to bring this thing from within their super-secret Google X labs over in Mountain View.

Project Ara was presented at the LAUNCH startup conference last week, with one Googler giving us a hands-on look at an early prototype. In the clip — from the 6 minute mark through to the 29 minute mark in the video above — we’re given a look at the metallic frame that will hold all of the modules that will be available.

We’ve learned some very interesting details from the video, such as which modules can go where, who can make the modules, and customization opportunities. Here are just a few of the key highlights:

  • Any module can be made for any position and any size. This means you can use two big batteries, or one small and one big battery, or 4 small batteries if you so choose. This is true for each and every component that will be compatible with Ara.
  • Ara is free for manufacturers to develop for, so the barrier of entry is nonexistent. Google will certify modules to make sure they meet the standard, but just as app developers who don’t meet the terms of conditions are free to distribute outside the Google Play Store, manufacturers are free to sell directly to consumers.
  • Each module can come with a plastic capsule, enabling customization and giving your Ara phone a unique look and feel. Case manufacturers would be able to sell kits with nothing but the plastic caps.
  • For the previously reported price of $50, each starter kit will come with the Ara frame, a display, the OS, a battery module, a low-performance application processor and a WiFi module.
  • There will be a front-facing slot beneath the display area for front-facing speakers or whatever module you want.
  • There will be three different frame sizes at launch — mini, regular and phablet-sized.
  • Google says the possibilities for mixing and matching, or daisy-chaining, frames and modules is theoretically limitless (one example was potentially using multiple display modules to make a tablet), but they want to focus on making a great phone experience for the initial launch.

It was a very interesting interview that I suggest all Project Ara enthusiasts watch. It won’t be long before developers and manufacturers are let in on some low-level details about how all of this will work, as Google has scheduled the first Ara developers’ conference for April.

It’s an online only affair, but it means they’re deep into development and on pace to bring a consumer-ready product by the time their 2015 launch window rolls around. We’re pretty excited, in case you can’t tell. Let us know if you share that same sentiment in the comments below!

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  • ChristianMcC

    I can’t say I’m not excited about this, but, I have to mention the elephant, I fear there won’t be enough adoption to keep manufacturing of components going!

    Here’s hoping for a non-pentile super AMOLED starter!

    • LightofHonor

      As long as the initial costs aren’t too high, even that worst-case scenario doesn’t make this phone any worse than a normal phone.

    • fechhelm

      I agree. The tech geeks like myself and those that visit this site love the idea. Unfortunately this represents a very small number. Most people will still buy their phones the way they buy computers, fully assembled and ready to use.

  • Chris H

    Flat out awesome. Can’t wait for Ara! I waited a year and a half for my Note 3, I can do it for the Ara!

  • scoter man1

    Hang on, I’m gonna go buy 3, 3000mAh batteries and 4 snapdragon 805’s. Nbd.

    In all seriousness, I’m kinda excited about this project again.

  • Tony Lai

    Video is now set to Private….

  • Powsniffer0110

    Exynos 5445, 3,000maH battery, 4.8in 1080p display, 2GB RAM, 120GB HDD, Sony’s 20.1 MP shooters.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cajunaggie87 cajunaggie87

      120 GB HDD? I think having an HDD in a phone would be a terrible idea. It would be more fragile than an iPhone 4.

  • John Doe

  • Apple Scholar

    All mobile worls needs is simplicity like the iPhone not this lol , way too complicated , it wont sell well , apple has 80 % world marketshare because its simple to use

    • Fred Marshall

      Bahahahaha. You, sir, are nuts.

    • malcmilli

      except they dont

      • Henri Weich Conradie

        BOOM! Schooled that Apple fan/troll!

    • Mark Wheeler

      Go home troll you’re drunk.. And this is coming from a SANE apple fan.

      • watson111505

        Apple fan… what are you trolling about in here. Is this post way to damn open source for your kind.

        • Mark Wheeler

          Do your research on my past posts I’m no troll just someone who * gasps* uses both operating systems! So you’ll forgive me if I don’t run back to macrumors or isource and stay there just because of your demands.

          I happen to be very interested in project ara so go pound sand.

          • Jay

            Don’t mind him, android loyalists are even worse than the proclaimed “Apple sheeple”. I’m also a dual user, kudos.

          • Mark Wheeler

            Ha! Yeah I’ve noticed that they even tear each other apart. HTC fans tend to be treated like piggy from lord of the flies.

          • Henri Weich Conradie

            I think he was talking to Apple Scholar. If not, though, that was a bit harsh considering that you sound like a reasonable guy who sees the user-friendly and effectiveness of iOS and the customisability and open-source of Android.

          • Henri Weich Conradie

            It was harsh of him to talk to you like that if he was referring to you.

          • Mark Wheeler

            That’s exactly what I am. But I’m still a noob to android. Am currently looking into ways to use both with one as a backup phone but I’ve heard that can be difficult

            We’ve got 2 android tablets and my wife has a mid range android phone I haven’t tried a phone since gingerbread though and am eyeballing a phone to use as back up

            Project ara is kind of what I’ve always dreamed of though. Id drop my iPhone for that in a heart beat if it goes well

          • Robb Nunya

            It’s not difficult if you can forego Apple services for Google ones. Using Apple services on Android is a PITA. The other way around is cake.

          • watson111505

            Project Ara is to advanced for you. Your right you should go back to your Mac rumors & Isource. That way all this open source won’t hurt your thinking. Lol…dual user. Absolutely ridiculous.

          • Mark Wheeler

            Wow dude, get a life and some hobbies besides android

          • watson111505

            Calm down Isheep…just rock in the boat a bit.

    • Henri Weich Conradie

      Android has a worldwide market share of approximately 80%. Apple makes way more profit on each iPhone than most/all Android manufacturers do combined.

    • sk

      I was hoping that people would get beyond simplicity. It feels we are dumbing down everything and therefore cannot appreciate the more complex things in this world.

    • Robb Nunya

      Did you post this from 2007?

  • WORPspeed

    Maybe this will replace the Nexus Line of devices. Instead of Nexus devices, they will have new Nexus modules. I am sure that with the right marketing and the subsidized nexus price they can make this work till adoption from non-Nexus-partners will come…just look at Google Experience devices.

    It will lower the barrier to entry to the phone compartment market…instead of having to create a whole phone or have the right business connections, you just make the parts you can and focus on selling those directly to the customers, which with low adoption from other OEM’s seems like an untapped market (all depending on how well the actual frame’s sell ofc)

  • Cliff_McAllister

    I can see it now: Verizon will support this, but at the cost of 2 modules fixed into place, both beholding the verizon logo. One module will do absolutely nothing, just there to take up space and most likely take up one the places in the front, and the other will have some tie to the bootloader so you can’t have custom kernel if you wanted one.

    • h4rr4r

      Good sir, you are a liar. That first module serves a very important role, it displays the 4G LTE logo!

      • Cliff_McAllister

        Forgive me for I am thoughtless. But not as thoughtless as verizon not placing the 4g lte radio inside the tile that says “4g lte” on it. That would have to be purchased for the price of everything you own.

        • h4rr4r

          Clearly this device will only be allowed on Prepaid and thus not able to access 4G. It should be proud simply to carry the logos.

    • Ryan5609

      This device will certainly not launch on Verizon’s network. Way to open of a platform for VZW to have any and all control of how its phones are declared worthy of their all powerful network. I am surprised rooting and unlocking your device is not punishable by a fine or death over on VZW. But GSM is all but guaranteed I would say!

  • ant-roid

    When I drop it, will it come apart?

    • max

      Magnetism will hold the pieces together.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    I’m not too interested in this modular phone concept for a couple reasons, but the biggest one is simply that providing a framework “chassis” for the modules means less space overall for engineers to cram the maximal amount of tech (especially battery) in there as they would a regular device.

  • qu4ttro

    “video is private”

  • guitarist5122

    video is private. new link please

  • steveb944

    Damn I really wanted to watch the video, too bad it’s now private.
    I’m looking forward to Ara and will most definitely be purchasing it due not only to the low entry price but to support an amazing project and potential.

  • Jay

    Ha Ha my comment got deleted, Really Quentin? Censorship?

  • Robb Nunya

    At $50 to start, this thing is in impulse-buy territory. I’d use it as an MP3 player for the car for that much (Plus a Bluetooth and SD mini module)

  • disqus_gvHzXAf4OJ

    BIG FAIL

  • Henri Weich Conradie

    Pics or it’s bs, haha.