Google has been working on the modular smartphone for two years now, utilising various divisions to make Project Ara possible, and it has finally announced the opening launch market: Puerto Rico.
The modular smartphone will be available for testing in the Caribbean country, and Google is using an unorthodox method for pushing it out, using delivery trucks to show off the new tech gadget.
Puerto Rico residents will be able to test out 20 to 30 modules, but Google is still keep some secrets from the press, including if several modules (CPU, GPU, RAM, sensors) will be crammed together into an APU.
Having an APU module would limit the scope of providers capable of working on Project Ara, since some providers only work on RAM, GPU or CPU modules for smartphones. However, most mobile devices integrate all sorts of modules into one accelerated processing unit.
Google might provide this unit to make sure everything runs smoothly, expanding in later updates. The specs for Project Ara are quite low-end at the moment, with 3G speed and 720p display the top-end, but Google is hoping new sensors tracking health, time and even specific app modules will interest customers.
There is still no release date for Project Ara, Google is using Puerto Rico simply as a testing ground for the service. Considering it could come in late 2015, the global release date could be pushed back till mid-2016.
Google will launch a full store for modules when it finally comes to market, and most likely they will be sent to customers for a small fee, and users will be able to send back old modules for recycling.
Even though Project Ara looks in its early days, this could be the big change in the smartphone world to offer true modulation of internals, similar to the PC market now. Having this newfound freedom might lower prices and expand competition.