Google has finally unveiled it’s new prototype for Project Ara called the Spiral 2 and it features a 3G modem, 11 additional modules, and other selectable options. The Spiral 2 is a pretty decent step forward from the original prototype. So far it has a 3G modem / RF bus for antenna support and features a totally different processor which is an ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) processor. One of the more impressive notes is that Google has 11 prototype modules already and, of course, more are on the way as companies and developers make their own. These modules are held to the phone through magnets within the bracket frames so popping a module in is pretty easy.
If you have been following the whole Project Ara development then you will be interested to know that the hardware for Project Ara devices will not be made using mostly 3D printing as was originally planned. Hopefully the new method won’t affect the cost of production too much in terms of increasing it.
Google did not announce any sort of base cost for a Project Ara device, only that they are going to try and keep it low and let consumers customize their device as much as they like. This will allow consumers to control the cost of their device initially, and then future upgrades can be done whenever a user wants to do it and keeping it within a budget if needed. The base device will feature an exoskeleton type of set-up inside and users can just slip a module into the available spaces. Some modules that can be swapped out include ones for batteries, storage, processors, cameras, speakers, and other components.
Currently a third prototype is in the works, named the Spiral 3, and when that launches it will be labeled as a “Market Pilot Launch”. This means that a few lucky people will be able to get one of these third prototypes. Puetro Rico, or more specifically the University of Puerto system, is the first location announced for the Market Pilot. From here Google will determine how they want to scale the global Market Pilot launch for the Spiral 3 and are hoping to have “20-30 modules across 10 categories” by the time this takes place. This includes the possibility of subsidized / on-contract modules as well.
So for right now getting a Project Ara device is really difficult even if you are a developer and sign up for it. As for a launch date here in the United States, nothing was mentioned regarding that but hopefully we see this in 2015.