Google's Project Ara will let you upgrade cameras without turning phone off

Project Ara
The launch of Google's Project Ara is rapidly approaching

Google's Project Ara is certainly an intriguing prospect, giving us the ability to build our own smartphone by connecting modular components.

However, as we approach the launch, there are still questions over how this ambitious project will work, but there's some good news: you can swap in and out some components without the phone being turned off.

We won't have to wait too long to find out how Project Ara should fully work either, as a recent MIT article indicates that a fully functional Ara prototype will be on display at the Ara developer's conference in December.

This should give us a clearer idea of how Project Ara works ahead of its launch, which could possibly be as soon as March 2015.

Piecing the information together

The prototype on display at the inaugural Ara developer conference should help answer a number of questions we still have about how a modular smartphone will work.

The idea behind Project Ara is that you'll be able to add and remove modules to the Ara handset to build your own smartphone that's tailored to your needs.

This has the potential to change the way we think about smartphone hardware. So, if you want a smartphone with a high resolution camera, but don't want to pay for other sensors you're not going to use, you can just pick and choose what you want to include in the Ara and build it yourself.

The prototype should give us an idea of just how easy it is to add and remove modules. The Ara will apparently run a custom build of Android L which will allow you to add and remove modules instantly without having to turn off or restart the phone.

However, whilst cameras, sensors, storage and other components will be hot swappable, the display and SoC (which will feature the processor and other essential components to running the phone) won't be swappable whilst the phone is turned on.

Google will also be launching a new online store, similar to its Play Store, where you will be able to buy additional modules for Project Ara.


Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.