What happens to our smartphones when they reach the end of their lifespan (or, as the weakest link, the end of their battery life)? In a perfect world, their parts will be recycled, or they themselves will find another grateful user who can squeeze some more use out of it. In reality, many of their plastic and metal parts end up in landfills the world over. This is not merely an environmental problem, but an inconvenience when we need to replace our phones so often, about every two years for an average user (a figure which is pushed by the telecom carriers who typically offer ‘free’ upgrades in the same amount of time).
Customise to your Heart’s Delight
Project Ara is Google’s answer to not only this issue, but also to the question of greater customisability on the Android platform. What if a user wants a mid to low range phone with a high-end camera component? Or what if a potential buyer of a flagship device likes all of the specs, but is willing to sacrifice its narrow width for twice the battery capacity? That is the promise of the modular smartphone: being able to swap in and out components as you please, or as you need to replace a specific part without ditching the entire device. As demonstrated in a recent live conference by Google, you can switch out a camera component without even turning the phone off.
The Future of Android?
Given that one of the Google platform’s key strengths is its open platform and ability to modify the settings to a much greater extent than its main rival in Apple, is it possible that this added degree of customisability on the hardware side of the equation is the next big leap forward in smart phone technology? Only time will tell. Sure, if Apple begins a line of component-based smart phones, Google will have done something right.