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Google Cellphones

Google Demos Modular Phone That (Almost) Actually Works 126

An anonymous reader writes Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group demonstrated Tango, a tablet with 3D cameras similar to Microsoft's Kinect and a version of the Ara phone that could almost boot to the Android home screen (it froze during the demo) at Google I/O today. Project Ara will give $100,000 to anyone who can create an Ara module that does something current smartphones can't. From the article: "Ara moved from concept render to physical mockup in about six months, and onstage today Google demonstrated a version of the phone that could just about boot to the Android home screen. In the demo above, the phone displayed a partial boot screen before freezing. The full boot time (had the demo worked as intended) would be about a minute, which would be a long time for a shipping phone but is reasonably impressive for such an early prototype. Software is the other thing that Ara's developers need to figure out. Current Android builds ship with support for the hardware the phone runs, but they don't include a whole bunch of extraneous drivers for other modems or Wi-Fi modules or cameras or SoCs. Current phone hardware doesn't change, so Android doesn't typically need to worry about this kind of thing."
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Google Demos Modular Phone That (Almost) Actually Works

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  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @09:32PM (#47329891) Journal

    Exactly. That's why a modular PCs were never created. There's no way you can get high performance when the user can pick their own RAM, CPU, motherboard, video card, hard drives, etc.

    Oh, wait.

    Size matters. Desktop PCs are easy to make modular (unless you want an iMac). Laptops are harder, and besides removable batteries, only a few had any modular components (like a DVD drive swappable for an extra battery). Phones are much more space-constrained. Every millimeter counts, and modularity takes up quite a bit of space at that scale, because each part needs to be enclosed, securely attach to the others, etc.

    In short, a modular phone is possible, but the trade-offs will be severe, and you'll be able to pick one or two things (e.g. speed, battery life, extra features, small size, etc.) but not all at the same time. And the prices won't be good, because manufacturer(s) will lose economies of scale: it'll be hard to compete with Apple and Samsung making millions and tens of millions of identical units.

  • by stoploss ( 2842505 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @10:15PM (#47330049)

    Its also slow and potentially doesnt charge the phone when its in use.

    Not only is it slow, and potentially does not charge the phone while it is in use, it also potentially does not charge the phone when it's on the charger.

    More than once, incidentally including last night, I have placed the phone on the charger before bed and awoke to a phone that did not charge because I had placed it slightly off alignment.

    I bought this Google charger for my Nexus 5 to make charging more convenient (no fumbling with micro USB with my glasses off, etc).

    That makes my experience ironic.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller