Google plans to launch its modular smartphone code-named Project Ara in 2015. Eventually what Google hopes to sell is just the skeleton of a phone designed to run Android software. Customers will be able to choose their own screen, processor, camera, and other hardware by picking modules.
Early prototypes have been powered by Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 processors, but Google has already announced it’s also working with Rockchip on chip modules for Project Ara.
Now the team says it’s working with chip makers Marvell and NVIDIA too.
Marvell is working on a module that will let customers use a PXA1928 processor, while NVIDIA is developing a Tegra K1 processor module.
A modular smartphone will likely be a bit thicker and heavier than many top tier phones on the market today. But it will also be more versatile. Not only can you design the phone you want by deciding exactly what battery, camera, or other options to choose, but you can even hot swap many components. That means you could replace a camera module, for instance, with a microscope or other a credit card processing module without rebooting your device.
Of course, the whole project will only be as good as the third-party modules created for Project Ara phones, which is why it’s exciting to know that at least three difference chip makers already plan to support the platform.
Google’s been showing off working prototypes of Project Ara devices recently, but the next-gen prototypes are expected soon. The Spiral 2 prototypes with custom shells will make their debut at a develop conference in January, while Spiral 3 will be unveiled in the spring of 2015.