The Project Ara Smartphone Google Just Unveiled Is Basically A High-Tech Jigsaw

Google's latest smartphone is, well, basically a jigsaw puzzle. The new Google Project Ara modular smartphone is redefining smartphones as we know them. Instead of a confined package that comes with a predetermined set of hardware and software, like the typical smartphone, the Project Ara device allows the user to choose which parts, or modules, they want and swap them out anytime they desire. The idea is to allow people to customize their own phones using the components they deem more important while enabling them to upgrade their phones more often and for less money.

Google, the ever-unpredictable tech company that likes to surprise us with off-the-wall gadgets, describes Project Ara in its promo vide:

The smartphone is one of the most empowering and intimate objects in our lives. Yet most of us have little say in how the device is made, what it does, and how it looks. And 5 billion of us don't have one. What if you could make thoughtful choices about exactly what your phone does, and use it as a creative canvas to tell your own story?

The Project Ara phone is currently in its second prototype, dubbed "Spiral 2," but already it's light years more advanced than its previous iteration. While it will be some time before the U.S. market gets its hands on the Project Ara modular phone, a trial run in Puerto Rico is scheduled for later this year. According to project lead Paul Eremenko, Puerto Rico has a great market for entry-level phones and its designated free trade zone would make it easy to import developer modules from all over the world. So what's so cool about a phone with swappable parts?

Build Your Own Phone

If you take a closer look at your phone, you'll probably notice that there are some functions that you never use while others you can't live without. With the Project Ara phone, you decide which parts to beef up and which ones to leave out on your mobile. For example, if you want a phone with longer lasting life, you can double the battery power. Or if you are app-happy, you can upgrade your phone's processing power to work faster.

A Wide Variety of Modules

The modules vary from external components like cameras to software like Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G connectivity. Other modules include new screens (because cell phone screens are so easily broken), new speakers, extra storage, and even health monitoring devices. A promo video for the device even teased night vision capabilties.

More Flexible and Cost Effective

Currently, the prototype comes with 10 slots for modules, which are easily snapped in and out of place using magnets. A user can switch up the nature and functionality of their phone multiple times within one day or even hour, depending on what capabilities you need or want in real time. The frame is designed to last five to six years and simply upgrading the individual modules should end up being cheaper than getting an entirely new phone. Though Google had listed a $50 price tag for the phone in the past, there is no confirmed cost at this time.

Google ATAP on YouTube

Images: Google ATAP/YouTube