Google’s Project Ara is an effort to design a modular smartphone so that customers can buy just the skeleton of a phone and then attach the screen, battery, processor, and other components as they see fit.
The earliest prototypes have been powered by Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 processors. Now the Project Ara team has announced that it’s working with Chinese chip maker Rockchip on new processors that will be compatible with Project Ara phones.
The goal is to develop chips with a UniPro interface allowing the chip to be part of an Ara module, just like other components of a smartphone such as cameras or wireless cards.
The first prototype to support Rockchip’s upcoming system-on-a-chip is expected to be available in early 2015.
While we wait for that, the Project Ara team plans to start shipping first-generation hardware featuring Texas Instruments chips to developers in the next few weeks, and a new version of the group’s module developer kit should be available soon. Later this year there will be a second Project Ara developer conference.
If all goes according to plan, we could see commercial versions of Google’s new modular smartphone in the next year or two.