The more I hear about Project Ara, the more I love it

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| April 4, 2014


Sometimes it feels like we’ve come to a standstill in this industry when it comes to new designs and features. While there’s still a lot to develop and iron out when it comes to smartphones, most smartphones come with the same design and similar features year after year. They vary by material they’re made out of, sometimes by custom UI, and by internal specs. But for the most part? We’ve seen it. It’s just a little faster and a little cooler looking than the last one we saw. Would I call any new phones we’ve seen this year revolutionary? No, and at the moment I don’t really have high hopes to see anything revolutionary for the rest of the year.


Next year, however, is a different story. Q1 of 2015 is looking to be a little more promising when it comes to showing off some radical changes to the smartphone industry, and it comes in the form of Project Ara.


I’ve mentioned Project Ara a few times already in my articles, but with the most recent video that gives us more of a real visual of what to expect from the phone, I can’t help but find my interest rekindled in the oddly modular phone - not that it was ever extinguished, but with little to work with at this point in time in terms of official information, when you get a nibble, you bite. Fortunately, today brought us a little reminder that Project Ara, while quiet, is still very much underway.


It’s not hard for me to describe exactly why I find Project Ara so interesting. For so long, we’ve been handed these phones and that’s that. It’s already made for you, the work is done. Maybe you like the camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020, but the processing power of the Galaxy S5 is the kind of power you want in a phone, and maybe perhaps the amount of internal memory allotted for you phone could have been a little higher. In the end, you have to choose one or the other; you can’t make your own phone. Yet. With Project Ara, though, it seems to be entirely possible. You pick and choose your own modules at your discretion. One day you might want a better camera and less memory; maybe the next day you would rather have more memory because you realize you don’t need as much processing power as you have. From what it looks like right now, this device is going to be the first device to really be yours.


What made this new video from Project Ara so interesting is that it sort of went further into detail on one of the more complicated areas of the phone: the modules. We know we can switch out the modules as we please, but how exactly do they stick? Furthermore, how do we know they’re not going to fall out? We’ve been told not to worry, but until this point it’s been a trust exercise. Now we know that we’ll be able to depend on electro-permanent magnets to keep the parts of our phone locked into place. They also explain that users will be able to design the backs of their modules as well, giving these phones both a functional and aesthetically unique design.


Sound confusing? Don’t worry, I hear ya. I wouldn’t trust myself to create my own phone either, but fortunately Project Ara already has an easy solution for that: the Ara Configurator app. This app is designed so that people who haven’t ever used a smartphone before will be able to create the perfect device for them. Although the video didn’t get into too much detail regarding the app, I imagine this app is going to be a quiz of sorts to figure out what you plan on using your smartphone most for, and helping you pick out just the right parts to make it perfect. It’s pretty cool that the developers are taking everyone - both people who know what they’re doing and people who don’t - into consideration when it comes to their phone.


Maybe it’s the fact that Project Ara is a breath of fresh air at this point, or perhaps it’s because I find that I really enjoy customizing my phone (rooting, jailbreaking, cases, flashing ROMs, and most recently using Moto Maker for my Moto X) but I really am pretty darn pumped about the future of Project Ara. It’s seriously one of the coolest concepts I’ve seen in this industry.


Readers, what have your thoughts on Project Ara been thus far? Is it something that you’re excited about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Image via Wirews