Project Ara Stories November 10, 2016

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Google cancelled Project Ara — the smartphone project that hoped to bring modular to the masses — a couple of months ago, but that has left a lot of longtime fans of the project (myself included, obviously) wondering about what the device could have been. Now, thanks to Nick Gray at Phandroid, we’re starting to learn a bit more about one of the many Ara concepts…

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Project Ara Stories September 1, 2016

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When the news broke that Google’s modular phone, Project Ara, had been shelved, many of us were shocked. Only months ago at Google I/O 2016, the company laid out plans to begin shipping developer units this fall and open up sales to the general public in 2017…

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Despite a detailed plan put forward at I/O this May, Reuters is reporting that Google is shelving plans to directly make and release a Project Ara device. While the technology could be licensed and released with other partners, Ara no longer fits into Google’s broader hardware strategy.

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Project Ara Stories May 27, 2016

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Google gave us a rare update on Project Ara almost exactly a week ago, showing off the latest prototype of the device and giving us an update on when we should expect it to launch. The company said that a new Project Ara development kit is coming this fall, and that the consumer modular phone is scheduled to launch next year. While those promises may or may not prove to have weight, it’s still good to see the company making some steps forward.

And now Dave Hakkens, the creator of Phonebloks (the project that first inspired Project Ara and other modular phones), has come out with his two cents on the latest Ara update…

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Project Ara Stories May 20, 2016

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After a long wait, Project Ara is now closer to real product with a consumer product finally coming next year. In addition to a new developer kit launching this year, ATAP announced many partnerships with companies to make modules. Google believes that Ara will be the future of computing and is now its own division.

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Project Ara Stories March 31, 2016

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Alphabet, obviously, has a lot of mainstream products that bring in a huge amount of revenue. Google’s ads business is clearly the front runner by a long shot, but there’s also Android, its hardware offerings (like the Nexus line, OnHub, etc.), Play Store digital content, as well as revenue from subsidiary companies like Nest (er.. Dropcam?), Google Fiber, and others.

But what usually excites people the most at Alphabet are the company’s moonshots under the umbrella of “X” — projects that usually cost hoards of money to keep alive and bring in nothing (or next to nothing) in return. The self-driving car project, Project Loon for worldwide internet, Project Titan drones, Makani‘s wind turbines, and Project Wing air-delivery are just a few, but there are even more exciting projects that have “graduated” to be their own unit at the company.

Google has often I/O as a showcase for its favorite moonshots. The company’s huge Google Glass extravaganza from 2012 is the most obvious example that comes to mind, but the company has used the stage at I/O to introduce to the world some just-as-exciting technologies with much less fanfare. Google ATAP, for example, gave a separate keynote at I/O 2015 introducing a handful of projects arguably more exciting than the things Google announced on the main stage. Technically not the same as the “moonshots” in the X division, but they’re in the same category in my opinion.

While you might be familiar with some the following projects (and that wouldn’t surprise me, considering they’ve all already been announced), they’re all ambitious experiments that have been recognized, announced, and made public-facing, but have since dropped off the radar; a lot of them have gone dormant, at least from our perspective. These are projects that excite me, and I want to hear what’s new with them come next month’s developer conference in Mountain View…

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Project Ara Stories March 28, 2016

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Project Ara has been very quiet this year, with the last we really heard from the Mountain View company being a “re-route” announced last year. The project was slated in early 2015 to be getting a market pilot in Puerto Rico, but that just didn’t happen. Everything seemed to be on track when Regina Dugan and co. were talking up the project during the Google ATAP event at I/O last year, but there haven’t been hardly any updates besides a new logo and a video look inside the group since.

Now, some new questions on Google Opinion Rewards seem to be polling the public on how much it might be willing to pay for Project Ara modules…

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Project Ara Stories October 27, 2015

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Google’s modular phone concept, Project Ara, has taken a little longer to develop than some had hoped — it’s apparently having issues with the attachment/detachment system and the number of possible permutations.

Finnish company PuzzlePhone is hoping that leaves room for competition, with its own take on the modular smartphone expected to hit Indiegogo next month. PuzzlePhone is, however, less ambitious than Ara, with just three replaceable components …  expand full story

Project Ara Stories October 7, 2015

BLOCKS - The World's First Modular Smartwatch - YouTube 2015-10-07 15-43-14

Four months ago, the team behind the BLOCKS smartwatch — a device not all too different from Google’s Project Ara smartphone in principle — said that it would begin crowdfunding in the “summer”. While the company may have missed that deadline by a few weeks, it looks like it’s going to happen nonetheless. The device is set to finally hit Kickstarter on October 13th… expand full story

Project Ara Stories August 19, 2015

Update: Project Ara has just tweeted that the strength of the magnetic forces holding together the Ara phone modules is not, in fact, a problem — apparently that was a joke. We’ve since heard that the strength of the magnetic fields produced by the magnets being used is approximately 30 Newton-meters, more than enough strength to hold a 30 gram electronic module in place. The comments about building a better attachment/detachment solution still seem to be true, however, with the tweet also saying that, “We have been configuring a new solution. It’s better too.” The team is also working on improved camera and battery modules.

Google’s Project Ara, the name of the modular smartphone system the company is building that would enable anyone to put together a phone on their own, has run into problems that have impacted its public test roll-out. The team behind it has been cheeky and somewhat coy in explaining why it has delayed a test launch of the unique system, but a concise message posted to Twitter today might at least partly explain the delay.

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Project Ara Stories August 17, 2015

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The Project Ara team just announced through its Twitter account that its modular smartphone won’t hit the public until next year. It had initially planned to get a test launch up and running towards the end of this year, but it seems Google has come up against some stumbling blocks. As it explained on Twitter, chief stumbling block was not being able to predict the number of variations possible. It stated there were far more iterations than they’d originally thought.

Just before announcing the delay, the company stated that it’s looking for new locations to test the product in the U.S: expand full story

Project Ara Stories August 14, 2015

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Engadget noticed that Google’s Project Ara team had posted a confusing series of tweets about its Project Ara modular smartphone, making it unclear how the company now plans to proceed.

After a long period of radio silence following a photo posted from Google I/O back in May, the project’s Twitter account posted first that it had some updates to share, then that there would be a “market pilot re-route” but “don’t worry, #ProjectAra isn’t going anywhere, #just recalculating” …  expand full story

Project Ara Stories June 2, 2015

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We first told you about the Blocks modular smartwatch earlier this year when we reported that the company had been in talks with Google about a potential partnership with the Ara team for cross-platofrm modules. A few months have passed since Blocks demoed their prototype at CES in January, and today they’re out to show the world the latest developments — and in just a few months, it looks like they’ve come a long way… expand full story

Project Ara Stories April 1, 2015

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ATP head Regina Dugan with some of her 100-strong team

Google’s mobile-focused research group, Advanced Technology and Projects (ATP), gives projects a maximum of two years’ work before they are killed, adopted as official Google products or sold to outside companies, reports the WSJ.

The deadline was created by former DARPA head Regina Dugan in an attempt to counter the normal tendency of companies to grow less nimble and more bureaucratic as they grow in size, said Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Product cycles slow down as a company gets larger. All of us believe we could execute faster […] 

We like this model because it puts pressure on people to perform and do relevant things or stop. I’ve spent an awful lot of time on projects that never end and products that would never ship.

The company is ruthless about killing off projects which don’t deliver notable results, said Dugan, who was hired by Google in 2012, and it doesn’t always let them run as long as two years …  expand full story

Project Ara Stories February 16, 2015

Toshiba demonstrates its first Project Ara camera modules in 5 MP and 13 MP variations

Toshiba has demonstrated its first camera modules for Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone. The units in development will reportedly be available in both 5 MP and 13 MP versions, with a 2 MP front-facing module also in the works.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo4GeSil9fU]

The video above shows the prototype 5 MP module capturing live images and transmitting them to the camera software. This progress marks the end of the first of three development phases. Following “basic phone functions,” Toshiba aims to introduce “up-to-date features” like NFC. The third phase will add currently undisclosed “unique features” to the system.

 

Toshiba’s work on these camera modules is expected to be complete in 2016. Google is hoping to have Project Ara smartphones available in a limited-market pilot by 2015.

Project Ara Stories January 23, 2015

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The BLOCKS smartwatch platform was unveiled a few months ago, and it’s still very much in development. But the company building the modular wrist-worn computer recently had a chance to sit down with the Project Ara team at Google, and it seems that the Mountain View corporation might be interested in working with the team to bring the best of the market’s modular devices together in harmony.

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Project Ara Stories January 14, 2015

Project Ara Module Developers Conference (MTV) - YouTube 2015-01-14 10-46-40

The second developer conference for Google’s Project Ara is happening today, and the ATAP team took some time this morning to show the world the second iteration of the modular smartphone—dubbed Spiral 2. While the hardware for the updated prototype is said to be complete at this point, the firmware still needs a bit work, as mentioned on stage by ATAP’s Paul Eremenko. But that aside, this new version continues to usher in the Project Ara mentality that consumers should be free to use hardware (much like we use software) to build a phone based on their needs—not the needs a company has determined they likely have.

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Project Ara Module Developers Conference (MTV) - YouTube 2015-01-14 10-58-19

Google has today announced at the second Project Ara developers conference that the “market pilot” pre-launch release of the modular smartphone will be coming to the island of Puerto Rico later this year.

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ARTOS12 Project Ara Development Kit announced, hopes to fast track development of 1×2 modules

Hitting the ground running is critical for developers who want to make modules for Ara, and today Toshiba and eInfochips have announced at the second Project Ara developers conference that they’re releasing a developers kit called the ARTOS12 made specifically for Ara 1×2 modules.

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The second Project Ara Developers Conference is happening today, and while it’s definitely going to be an exciting event for those developing for Ara, not everyone can make it out to Mountain View for a one day event. Thankfully, Google has provided a live stream of the event, and you can watch it here…

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Project Ara Stories January 12, 2015

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Another “alpha” release of the Project Ara MDK (module developers kit) has been released, and interestingly, it goes into some previously undiscussed preliminary details regarding requirements for developers to submit their modules to the Google-run module marketplace we told you about last month. Also, it was announced today on Phonebloks’ blog that a company called Vestigen, known for creating smart liquid sensors, will be creating a module for the project.

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Project Ara Stories December 19, 2014

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Google today announced a few new details about the progress on its Project Ara smartphone, which will feature interchangeable internal components designed to allow consumers to build exactly the phone they want and upgrade individual parts as necessary.

The latest update on the project includes some information about what types of processors are expected to be available for the device. Previously Google had announced a partnership with Rockchip to create a custom system-on-a-chip that would power the Ara. The company revealed today that Marvell’s PXA1928 will also be available in the lineup.

However, the bigger news is that the NVIDIA Tegra K1…

Project Ara Stories December 9, 2014

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Project Ara is still slowly but surely making its way toward being a commercial product, and today one of the mysteries of the device–how people will buy and sell various interchangeable hardware modules–has been answered. Globant, a company focused on delivering “innovative software” has announced that they’ve partnered with Google’s Advanced Technology & Projects (ATAP) group on the development of a marketplace made specifically for Project Ara.

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Project Ara Stories October 29, 2014

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Google’s Project Ara is steadily making progress and the folks from Phonebloks recently paid a visit to NK Labs, a contractor working on the device’s prototype for Mountain View. The engineering firm sat down and talked about some of Ara’s recent developments, along with the challenges that come with taking on such a complex project.

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Project Ara Stories September 30, 2014

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The idea of being able to modify and upgrade your phone’s hardware as you please almost sounds too good to be true, but Project Ara aims to offer just that. But in addition to being able to pick and pull your device’s camera and battery, the director of Google’s modular smartphone program, Paul Eremenko recently revealed that you’ll be able swap even more modules around.

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Project Ara Stories August 23, 2014

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It seems as if Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone project is coming along nicely, despite a few manufacturing setbacks. There was apparently a problem with manufacturing devices for those who won units at Google I/O, but Google yesterday announced some exciting developments: the third iteration of Ara is planned to sport a custom-made system-on-a-chip made in collaboration with Rockchip, which is going to be made with the unique form factor of the device in mind.

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Project Ara Stories July 2, 2014

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Back at Google I/O, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team showed off the first booting prototype Project Ara device and teased that the first units would be available to developers later this year. Today, Google announced that 100 members of its Ara Scouts program will soon be the recipients of the first Project Ara devices. In a post announcing the closure of the Ara Scouts program, Google said that the lucky 100 people were chosen based on how often they participated in the Scouts program.

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Dan Makoski

Dan Makoski, Google’s head of design for its Advanced Technology & Projects division is leaving the company and taking a design related position at Capital One. Yep, the bank that has star-studded credit card ads powered by celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Samuel L. Jackson. So why leave a bleeding edge tech company like Google for life at a financial institution? Makoski recently drafted a list on his blog explaining his decision.

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Project Ara Stories June 26, 2014

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During a session at its I/O developer conference today, Google announced that it’s partnering with LG to build a tablet that’s part of its Project Tango program to release to consumers next year. Google earlier this month announced that it was releasing a prototype Tango tablet, but only for developers. The version made by LG will be intended for consumers, and presumably, cheaper than the $1024 developer version.

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Project Ara Stories April 16, 2014

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If you’re keen to get your hands on one of Google’s modular Ara phones, the bad news is you’re going to be waiting a while: the company has said at its first developer’s conference they won’t go on public sale until January of next year. You will, though, be able to configure your own phone using a Moto Maker style tool that will allow you to not only select your components but add customized colors and designs to them as you do …  expand full story

Project Ara Stories April 4, 2014

Ahead of the first Ara Development Conference on 15 & 16 April, Google has released a teaser video showing a few glimpses into the project to create a phone with swappable modules, allowing customers to configure a phone to order and update individual components at a later date …  expand full story

Project Ara Stories February 26, 2014

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Project Ara, the modular phone project announced by Motorola’s ATAP team last year, will be getting its own developer conference this April. Google announced the event on the Project Ara website (via AndroidPolice) and noted that a live stream with “interactive Q&A capability” will be available online for those that can’t attend. The conference will take place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and Google says there will be a limited number of attendees. The event will focus heavily on a new Ara Module Developers’ Kit that will be released online in early April: expand full story

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