Project Ara Update: Still Not Available, But Looking Cooler Than Ever

By Brent Rose on at

At yesterday morning’s ATAP session at Google I/O we got another little tease of Project Ara, Google’s modular smartphone. I mean, it was a tiny tease. Basically, it's still a thing that exists. But! We got to see a little of it in action and it was pretty damn impressive.

Project Ara Update: Still Not Available, But Looking Cooler Than Ever

Google engineer Rafa Camargo came out on stage with a bunch of Ara pieces on a tray, including the frame, which serves as the spine of the device. He then popped in the processor, the battery, and a pair of speakers so it would be a stereo device. Then he turned it on and 30 seconds later it was alive and running “the latest version of Android,” presumably Lollipop or the upcoming M release.

Project Ara Update: Still Not Available, But Looking Cooler Than Ever

Then he said, “So, let’s take a picture.” He opened the camera app, and nothing showed up. Just a camera icon with an line through it. He hadn’t installed a camera module.

Project Ara Update: Still Not Available, But Looking Cooler Than Ever

So, he picked up the little camera puzzle-piece off the tray, and slid it into the slot. Five seconds later, the camera sprang to life and he took a photo of the audience.

Really cool! I was impressed with how fast it registered and fired up the new component. I’d assumed that you’d need to power down the device for that kind of thing, but the plug and play functionality is a great feature.

Unfortunately that was all they showed us. Sigh. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more soon.