Project Ara’s modules will be 'hot swappable' and readily available in the Google Play Store

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Credit: Norman Chan

Remember Project Ara? The modular, swap-as-you-see-fit smartphone coming out of Google’s Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) group? Paul Eremenko, the head of Project Ara, quietly announced that the devices will come loaded with a modified version of Android L that allows for nearly all hardware modules to be “hot swappable,” so users will be able to easily switch out components without even turning the phone off.

The modules themselves won’t be hard to find either, as they’ll be readily available in the Google Play Store. “The project’s development continues apace through the collaboration with many partners such as Quanta, Toshiba, Rockchip, Foxconn and others,” wrote Giulio Minotti on the Phonebloks blog. “Many companies, large and small, as Laird Technologies and Array labs are developing modules with innovative features never seen before.”

The story behind the story: We were already aware that Google and Linaro were developing a specially modified version of Android L for Project Ara, and now we have more details on how it will actually work.

With the next Project Ara developers conference slated for December we’ll likely see more of what Google and its partners have conjured up to make swappable mobile hardware a reality. Once these devices hit the market, developers will be able to take the regular old Android source code and make swappable night vision cameras, heart rate monitors, or whatever else they can conjure up. Only the processor module (which contains the whole system-on-chip, including RAM) and display module can't be swapped without turning off the phone, it seems. The possibilities seem endless, and that’s exactly what Google wants developers to think of with Project Ara.  

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