updated 11:58 am EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Project Ara developer kit defines basic specifications of smartphone modules
Google has provided more details about its modular Project Ara smartphone plans, by releasing its Module Developers Kit. The documents, published ahead of a developer conference for the device, detail how the smartphone is put together, as well as basic specifications that individual modules must fulfill in order to interface with the main endoskeleton and other modules.
The 81-page document shows there could be three sizes of phones available, just as teased in an earlier video. The majority modules will be able to work with the mini, medium, and large endoskeletons, with some exceptions, though each body will have a number of "ribs" and "spines" dividing up the back, dictating the size and placement of modules. The Verge notes that, for the moment, only Google will be producing the endoskeletons.
Examples of front panel configurations for Project Ara
Guidelines for individual types of modules are also provided, allowing for modules to protrude out from the phone for extra functionality, such as with cameras or fingerprint scanners. Common modules for networking, batteries, displays, and other parts are given further guidelines, though developers can still create non-standard modules. While it will be constructed from multiple blocks, Google wishes for Ara devices to have a "smooth, flat, pebble form," and to be able to survive a four-foot drop, among other safety guidelines.
The development kit release is an important step in the production of Project Ara, with the first finished units expected to exit production in early 2015, and with a basic kit anticipated to cost as little as $50.
The first Ara Developers Conference will take place from April 15th.