Google will launch its first modular smartphone during January 2015, the company has confirmed during its Project Ara Developers Conference in San Francisco.
With the search giant turn hardware great having long been known to be working on modular handsets as part of its innovative Project Ara programme, the company yesterday confirmed that it will launch a base “Gray Phone” early next year.
Although branding its first modular phone ‘gray’ might bring more drab, negative connotations to mind than exciting prospects of customisation, Google has said this is intentional.
"It's called the Gray Phone because it's meant to be drab gray to get people to customize it," Head of the Ara project, Paul Eremenko said.
Set to be the most customisable handset ever created, the Project Ara ‘Gray Phone’ will be a basic frame, screen and Wi-Fi radio. The base handset will cost just $50 (£29).
From this foundation, owners will be able to build up their handsets using a variety of modular blocks, with improved processing units, cameras, storage and other components all able to be clipped in an out of the phone’s available slots.
Quizzed on the security of these removable components if lost or stolen, Eremenko told developers that integrated data protection would be down to them and their designs.
"[It] seems like it would be a useful feature to have in a lot of modules, especially modules that store a lot of information," he stated. "We don't envision it as a platform feature. It would be on a module-by-module basis."
Earlier this month Google confirmed that the modular Ara elements will be held in place by electropermanent magnets.
“When we created this modular phone and we realised that electropermanent magnets would be able to keep it all together, we realised we wouldn’t have to cover it,” Dan McCloskey, Head of Design for Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects Group stated
He added: “We ended up deciding to embrace this block and modular aesthetic, it was part of the phone, let’s not hide it and let’s not put it behind a cover.”
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