In this opinion piece, digital content writer at Optus Lucy Soares-Smith gives us the lowdown on Google’s upcoming project and why she’s dying for it to get here faster.
ICYMI, fully customisable smartphones are almost here. Yup, thanks to Google’s Project ARA, we’ll soon be able to build our own modular phones based on the features we value most – what a time to be alive.
If you’ve never heard of Project ARA before, let me briefly explain how their handsets will work. Each ARA phone will have a basic rectangular frame, technically termed an “endoskeleton” and you can slot different tiles, called “modules”, into the endoskeleton in order to build your own phone.
The tiles you slot in are completely up to you. If you’re really into photography, you can add an incredible camera tile to your endoskeleton.
Want crystal clear graphics? Swap the standard screen for one with high resolution. Any Blackberry fans still out there? You can even add a keyboard to an ARA handset. Wherever possible, everything will be interchangeable.
Project ARA was supposed to launch late last year but the team hit a few hurdles that have delayed its pilot test plans.
It turns out that when you make a phone with swappable parts, it can be a little tricky to keep those parts stay put together – but I won’t let that dampen my spirits. In a world with a mass-produced, one-size-fits-all mentality, total customisation goes a long way.
ARA handsets start out cheap too; Google hopes to sell the basic grey phone at a cost of just $50 – perfect for anyone shopping on a budget. ARA isn’t without its cynics though; critics have argued that this type of handset only appeals to techies and tinkerers because normal people would prefer the simplicity and convenience of buying a “ready-made” phone. I have to disagree here.
I currently own the standard iPhone 5 and it still works perfectly well, save for the camera which pales in comparison to later iPhone models and is therefore ruining my selfies. Project ARA’s technology would solve this problem (problem being: sub-standard selfies) by allowing users to upgrade different parts of their phone without having to replace the entire handset. FINALLY.
And say you cracked your phone’s screen, instead of taking it to your handset provider and having them replace it for a hefty fee, you could just buy a new screen and swap it out yourself. The beauty of ARA is that it would turn normal people like you and I into budding handset developers.
Sure, there’d have to be some compromises; aesthetically, ARA’s handsets might not look as sleek as the current smartphones on the market and costs could add up depending on the quality of the modules you add. But you know what, I’m happy to compromise on aesthetics (and spend a bit of dollar) in return for a phone that I can truly personalise.
Plus, modular handsets mean the creative possibilities are endless; no more standard, uniform phones where you’re stuck waiting for the manufacturer to release an upgrade. Yay!
So c’mon Google, give us a launch date. I wanna build my own phone already.
Lucy Soares-Smith is a wannabe tech geek and Digital Content Writer at Optus.