News Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Gareth Halfacree, 16 Apr 2014.

  1. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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  2. Maki role

    Maki role Dale you're on a roll... Staff

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    If it works well, I could see this being really interesting actually. I'm quite keen on the idea that if the cards are played right, it could allow for smaller companies to simply make modules for the big boys. Currently the phone market is almost impervious to all but the biggest players as you have to out-do them on every front (no mean feat either). But this could in theory allow a smaller company to make a module that simply focuses on one small aspect like the camera, battery or storage or something we haven't seen yet. Whether that will actually end up being the case is unknown, but at least there's a possibility.
     
  3. GuilleAcoustic

    GuilleAcoustic Ook ? Ook !

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    I really have great hope and expectations on this project. Maybe we'll finaly be able to pay only for the features I need ... and then we could upgrade only the parts that we need to upgrade.

    I really love physical keyboards on smartphone, like the old Droid. Hope that kind of module will see the light.
     
  4. Umbra

    Umbra New Member

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    Oh Dear, someone just threw up all their Apple juice at the thought of all that accessibility and non-propriety :wallbash:
     
  5. MSHunter

    MSHunter Well-Known Member

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    Wait what just magnets to hold the phone together?? I remember there was a locking bar with 3 screws in the original design. Oh dropped my phone... crap cpu rolled under a bus....
     
  6. siliconfanatic

    siliconfanatic Johny-come-Lately

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    Most likely we're looking at neodymium magnets... not so much "crap module popped out" and more "crap, the bus stuck to the phone"... :D
     
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  7. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, not convinced by the idea that this stuff will be held together by magnets. However, the concept itself looks very interesting indeed, although I have the feeling that a phone built from these blocks is going to have to be a lot bigger than an equivalent-spec current phone.
     
  8. ashchap

    ashchap Member

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    I'd love to be proven wrong but surely these devices will be larger, more expensive and less reliable/robust than normal phones. In which case I can't see the concept taking off.
     
  9. siliconfanatic

    siliconfanatic Johny-come-Lately

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    I honestly don't see the problem with phones gaining a little heft... who knows, maybe they won't be so d@mn flimsy then...

    I said neodymium magnets, but I'd love to have proof of just what type they are so I can qoute bomb anyone who automatically spits out that magnets can't do there job right... From what can see, they also slide in, and magnets should provide more than adequate traction to keep them in place.
     
  10. AlienwareAndy

    AlienwareAndy New Member

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    Survey last year showed that phones are getting bigger, as is the desire for bigger phones.

    Given phones are pretty much no such thing now (IE people use them for a million reasons other than the actual phone part) it makes sense. We want a tablet we can use as a phone when we feel like it, and 5" seems to be the sweet spot as it still (just about) fits in the pocket.

    Those wanting a phone in the strictest sense won't care about what else it does and will use Blackberry or cheaper devices.
     
  11. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    According to the Project Ara Module Developers' Kit documentation, the modules attach via electro-permanent magnets.
    There's then some pretty diagrams on pages 46 and 47. Oh, but there's also this warning:
    So, don't expect masses of modules to be available in January.
     
    Last edited: 16 Apr 2014
  12. r3loaded

    r3loaded Well-Known Member

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    The electro-permanent magnets are the clever part as they allow the modules to stick securely to the phone but can be switched off and don't require power for the magnet to function.

    The other clever innovation is the capacitive contacts. There's no physical connector so there's nothing that can be worn out, but this connector can still provide gigabits of bandwidth between the mainboard and the modules. The exception is RAM which needs far more than that so it'll be soldered to the mainboard or on the SoC in a PoP setup.

    Overall, I'm a lot more optimistic now about Ara after reading about these innovations. As always, mass production will be the only tricky part left.
     
  13. Yadda

    Yadda New Member

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    I wonder how this will influence mobile phone camera development. Could we see bigger, higher quality interchangable lens and sensor modules?
     
  14. bawjaws

    bawjaws Well-Known Member

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    Screens are getting bigger, but in general phones are getting thinner and bezels are getting smaller. I can't see Ara delivering the same level of thinness, for example, as current smartphones, or integrating screen, front-facing camera and other sensors into a thin bezel. It's one thing having a phone with a 5"+ screen which is less than 1cm thick and has a bezel of 3mm, but the same size screen in a 2cm thick phone with a 6mm bezel is going to be a nightmare to hold and use unless you have hands like shovels :D
     
  15. dstarr3

    dstarr3 New Member

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    Well, it's been this long, and modular PCs are here to stay. Loads of people build their own PCs. That's fine. But modular laptops never happened, because the engineer a laptop that performs well, maintains decent battery life, and fits in a small form factor, you have to avoid modularizing it. All the components are engineered to fit into its own determined space for maximum efficiency, performance, cooling, et cetera, in minimum space. Phone are getting bigger, and that's fine, but I think a modular phone that performs as well as current phones would have to be diabolically large.

    And also consider the number of people who build computers versus the number who simply buy one. Expect an even smaller percentage of users building their own phones, surely. And that will drive cost up quite a bit.

    But cost will likely be the most damning thing. I haven't paid for a cell phone in years, because I always get them free with a contract renewal. Cell phone providers love throwing free phones at you if it means two more years of the privilege to charge you a monthly fee. I highly doubt there will be a way for cell phone providers to give customers a complete modular device that competes with common phones for free.

    I feel this will be far too niche for it to take off very well.
     
  16. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

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    Yeah, the reasons phones these days can have such large screens and still remain usable (ymmv) is that in most other respects they are very compact indeed.

    As much as this looks a good idea on paper I really can't the the advantages outweighing the disadvantages.

    I simply can't see a way in which such a design won't add bulk, complexity and cost such that a fully integrated phone is a better option in spite of the lack of upgradability.
     
  17. SuiSid3l

    SuiSid3l New Member

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    till you drop your phone and your shelling out 600 dollars for a new one when you could just swap out a part or two.

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/15/5614748/project-ara-building-the-module-smartphone

    It's not that large at all. And as a matter of fact last week when they went to unveil the phone someone dropped it and broke the screen, instead of being **** out of luck they simply took 5 seconds to swap it out. Explain to the how this is outweighed by a phone built to a certain spec that is 95 percent irreplaceable. You seriously wouldn't give up 2mm of thickness for that? And they are only gonna get better at making them.

    Now you can have expanded memory, several variations of cameras, extra battery life and all from hundreds of manufacturers. ya know, that thing called "competition". How many phones have come out that people adore but won't buy because of 1 deal breaker. Shitty battery life or not external sd slot or lackluster display.
     
  18. Yadda

    Yadda New Member

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    I like the idea but I'm not sure the colour of that prototype is doing them any favours. They'd be far better off adopting a more stylish look like Apple do with their iTat. It's what the high-end gadget market sems to like.
     
  19. wolfticket

    wolfticket Downwind from the bloodhounds

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    25% overhead is not inconsiderable. You could use some of that saving to get insurance.
    It looks like a substantial drop could damage the infrastructure and multiple modules anyway.
    Repair and replacement screen are also possible with current flagship phones. While they are not replaceable by the user and so cost money to fit, one would imagine the parts are cheaper than the modules.

    When I look at this I see the various attempt to make laptops commonly upgradable.
    Components depreciate too quickly, the new modules will be too expensive and when people get a new phone I think usually they want a general spec bump and a shiny new thing to play with for a minimum cost (often not paying upfront).

    Don't get me wrong, I really like the idea and hope it at least take off enough to be a niche option, but I just don't see it happening.
    I think they're woefully underestimating the amount most people will pay (both in terms of cost and design) for an ability to upgrade and adapt that they may never use.

    As far as I can tell most people don't actually care about memory, GHz, megapixels, mAh etc, certainly not enough to pay extra for the option to upgrade them at some point in the future.
    They either want the latest and greatest package or the bare minimum at good price. This offers neither.
     
  20. Nexxo

    Nexxo Bargaining chip

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    I can see it happening. It makes lots of sense.

    - Easy to upgrade
    - Easy to repair
    - A central aluminium "spine" which offers more structural integrity than a plastic case
    - Modules are compact and light, so if you do drop them they are less likely to get damaged (and if they are, just swap them)

    Definitely a niche product, but there are a lot of hardcore Android modders out there.
     

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