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One of the most exciting Google projects this year has been Project Ara, which is working on building modular smartphones.

Although the phones aren’t out yet, Project Ara has now opened up applications for developers wishing to get developer boards to start building modules. Scroll down for the various application review periods.

The whole idea behind Project Ara is to enable people to customize their phones by snapping together different pieces, or modules, and building a phone to their specifications. The pieces stick in place thanks to electro-permanent magnets, making it both durable and customizable. It announced in February that it plans to release a basic $50 model next year, which will only have Wi-Fi.

Currently, there are three developer boards available for development and prototyping:

  • An application processor with a strawman TI OMAP 4460 AP and modified Linaro Android
  • A UniPro switch board representative of the network functionality of the Ara endoskeleton
  • A general purpose endpoint board for developer-unique functionality that supports the tunneling of various legacy protocols

Project Ara said in February that it will hold three developer conferences, the first of which happened this past April. The company released an enticing video in advance of the event, which even we found exciting.

We also learned the phone won’t have a case after all.

“We ended up deciding that embracing this block and modular aesthetic was part of the phone — let’s not hide it, let’s not put it behind the cover,” said Daniel Makoski, head of design for Google’s advanced technology and projects group. “This phone can flow and adapt just as much as our lives flow and adapt, and that in itself is an aesthetic.”

3D printing will also be highly involved in producing customizable modules.

While the current review period ends soon, on July 17, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific, a second period will run from July 18 to August 17.

Project Ara was originally part of Motorola, which Google owned until it sold it to Lenovo for $2.9 billion earlier this year. However, Project Ara remained part of Google.


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