Project Ara is Google’s attempt to reinvent the cellphone as we know it. Instead of a slab of glass and metal that you have no ability to upgrade, save for buying a new device, it’s an attempt to launch a phone where all of the main components are interchangeable via modules that click in and out, attaching via electro-permanent magnets. Despite being highly customizable, it will only come in three main sizes, helping to eliminate the kind of device fragmentation that currently plagues Android.
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When project lead Paul Eremenko got ready for the big reveal — finally showing off Google’s vision for a modular phone with working, user-interchangeable components — he had to dampen expectations from the enthusiastic crowd. “You should temper your applause,” he warned, explaining that the device had been damaged the previous day. “We did crack the screen, and the phone doesn’t quite boot.” A disappointment, sure, but it did little to actually temper anything.
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