Google has officially kicked off the beta testing for Project Ara, their new modular smartphone project. The project was announced last year, when Motorola partnered up with Phonebloks. Somewhere down the line, Motorola moved the project to Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP).
ATAP has been working on Project Ara ever since, a group dedicated to some of Google’s more ambitious projects. The team has a three year deadline to get the project from concept to actual consumer product, they have marked March 2015 as the official launch date, two months later than expected.
The beta testing will consist of 100 testers, selected at random out of a pool of around 300,000. There have been no details on what the beta testers will be allowed to do with the device and if they will get more than one module for each slot, to try out different components.
Google wants to figure out a lot from the beta testing, having the phones out in the wild and exposed to everyday smartphone use. It will be interesting to see how the modular smartphones run and if Android runs into any problems with loose hardware.
There hasn’t been a lot of news about Project Ara and how Google will start selling the device. We expect there will be a store available for customers to design their own device, similar to the Moto Maker, allowing them to buy a set amount of components and then more options.
Recycling and customisation are big factors for the modular smartphone, Google needs to work on making sure the components sent back get decomposed properly and the user continues to buy new parts for their phone, instead of getting rid of it in two years for another device.
Nobody knows how well Project Ara will do in the market, similar to Google Glass, we still await more testing and refining of the concept.