Google reportedly kills Project Ara modular phone

Google's modular phone dreams could be dead, as it looks to streamline hardware efforts. Licensing the technology may be an option, though.

(Image: Google)

Alphabet's Google has suspended Project Ara, its modular phone project that was originally slated for release to consumers in 2017, according to Reuters.

Project Ara, Google's modular smartphone, slated for release in 2017

In the meantime, the developer version will be available in the fourth quarter of 2016

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Google will not ship Project Ara, but instead, is weighing licensing the technology to third parties, the report says. We've reached out to Google for confirmation of the project's suspension.

Project Ara aimed to let users swap out key smartphone components when they're broken or to upgrade them when better components come along. It was founded in 2013 when then-handset arm of Google, Motorola, formed the division to build a smartphone exoskeleton with a variety of hardware modules that can be used to customize the device.

Google discussed Project Ara at the Google I/O conference in May, where it not only announced new partners, but a developer version of the Project Ara that was supposed to ship to developers in the fall.

That's not say Project Ara didn't run into its mishaps. The project was delayed several times from launching in Puerto Rico.

While no press got to demo the phone, the Ara team called the handset thin and light. The team integrated the phone's core technology into the phone frame, allowing for six modular slots built for flexibility. All the slots are generic and support any functionality, like a camera or a speaker.

The move to shutter Project Ara could come as Google looks to streamline its hardware division. Google brought on Motorola president Rick Osterloh to oversee the regrouping, according to Reuters. The changes could be bigger than just Project Ara, as the Nexus program is rumored to get the axe, with new Pixel smartphones to take the place.

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