The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

By Darren Orf on at

Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP), which Google nabbed from Motorola nearly a year ago in its sale to Lenovo, has been hard at work with Google trying to make the future.

The search king already has an impressive CV with Google X that includes building a global network of balloons to deliver internet and trying to convince us to strap computers to our faces. But one idea that's been of endless fascination is ATAP's Project Ara, Google's modular smartphone.

Today, at Project Ara's second annual press conference, the team revealed details on Spiral 2, the third iteration of the Ara prototype. Unveiling the new (and fancy looking) prototype was also somewhat bittersweet, as Google also said we shouldn't expect to own one of these devices any time soon. To make up for this classic case of gadget blue balls, they did give us some nice images to fawn over. Let the ogling commence!

The Casing

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

So this is just a look at a completely barren Ara smartphone, even the screen and front-facing camera are optional modules, meaning hypothetically you could swap low and hi-res screens in and out as you choose, which is rather cool. But that's a lot of points of failure. Factored in with the wear-and-tear of constantly switching out modules, it's no wonder Google needs a bit more time with this one.

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

A closer look at two back panels side by side.

The Modules

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

The Ara smartphone is all about the modules. Previous modules include Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, camera, battery, graphics, storage, etc. Today, Google also announced new modules including extended battery life, speaker and a pollution sensor. Google will begin testing the smartphone in Puerto Rico and envisions selling these little guys out of food truck-type vending stands.

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

Putting It All Together?

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

This is the powerful idea behind Project Ara: the exact smartphone you want when you need it. Going on a long trip and need battery life? Swipe out for a low-res screen and extra battery modules. Need to take great photos at your kid's footie game? Get that camera module packed with megapixels. It's an ambitious dream, to be sure, and one that won't chime with everyone, but it's an idea worth exploring just to see where it goes.

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet

The Best Look at Google's Ara Smartphone Yet