Google's Project Ara Won’t Be Around Until at Least 2016

Hurry up and wait for Google's modular smartphone project.

Aug 17 2015, 9:10pm

Image: Google

Google's modular smartphone is officially delayed, with tests pushed back to 2016. The program, called Project Ara, was to begin testing in Puerto Rico later this year, but now both the date and the place are uncertain, as developers work toward finding a new test market.

Project Ara seeks to create a modular cell phone, one in which components can be replaced piecemeal. This means that if, say, big advances are made in optics, the camera can be swapped out without sacrificing the rest of its phone. It's a long promised technology that's remained elusive vaporware up to this point. Project Ara is far from the only example of a modular smartphone—there's also Fonkraft, which was pulled from Indiegogo in May; Vsenn, which shuttered earlier in June; and PuzzlePhone, which was set for sometime this year but hasn't updated its blog since February.

One potential problem is making the hardware function together while being kept in separate and distinct modules, unlike more compact cell phone circuitry. The end product still has to be pocket sized, fast, and efficient. This also comes at a higher hardware cost, while many of the manufacturers are aiming for low prices to stay competitive in the smartphone market. It's a tall order—and one that may push the tech's timetable back even further.