Google has released footage of a working prototype of its remarkable modular smartphone known only as Project Ara. And it looks pretty great.
The latest prototype, called Spiral One, is the most functional and complete Ara prototype we've yet seen. In the video demo, the Android-powered device is powered up. The demonstrator then unlocks the display launches an app. While we only see about 15 seconds of footage of the device while it's actually turned on, it's still impressive that this project is at such an advanced stage already, considering its revolutionary potential.
Google subsidiary Motorola revealed back in October 2013 that it was working together with startup Phonebloks on a modular smartphone that could be dismantled by the user and put back together with different parts.
Motorola claims it wants to give users to ability "to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it's made of, how much it costs, and how long you'll keep it."
For instance, a user who wants to take high-quality photos on their phone could invest in a powerful camera module, while users who don't care so much could save the money.
Modules would be user-designed and peer-reviewed on the module store, so users would know which modules will work best for them.
The design for Project Ara is made up of what Motorola is calling an "endoskeleton (endo)" and the detachable modules. The "endo" is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place.
The possibilities for new modules range from "a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter - or something not yet thought of."
The Motorola Ara has been in development for two years already, including the work Phonebloks did before its acquisition by Google.
Some have questioned whether pricing the components by single module will actually work out cheaper for the average phone user. The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that supply smartphone makers build enormous quantities of cameras and batteries, for instance, and save money through economies of scale.
Still, offering users a more customisable experience could pay dividends in the long run.
What do you think? Is this the future of smartphones, or just another gimmick in an over-saturated industry? Let us know what you think in the comments section below, or stop by for a chat with the ITProPortal team and other readers on ITProPortal's tech talk live chat.