In a world where apps allow for greater control over smartphones, people have some to expect adaptability in their devices. Google has decided to takes things a few steps further, giving users the ability to quickly switch out actual hardware to fully customize their features.

Project Ara is the code name for the newly unveiled smartphone set to hit the streets of Puerto Rico sometimes near the end of the year. The limited pilot program hopes to attract the attention of those who still have not gotten onto the smartphone bandwagon, or those who would be attracted by the idea of switching out hardware at a moment’s notice.

Making Your Smartphone From Scratch

The smartphones work by creating magnetized slots in the frame for different modules dedicated to a different function. For example, you could put in a better camera, or a night vision lens, or back speakers to make it into a better media device with more audio reach.

At the moment, there are eleven modules that have not been fully named, only teased at. Google says they hope that by the time the final product is released, they will have anywhere up to thirty modules available.

This will be helped by developers who can get an MDK (Module Developers Kit) shipped to them at the end of this month. It is an open project involving people from around the world, so the sky is the limit.

Details such as the specifications of the device itself and price are unclear. Google says that it will probably cost anywhere from $50 – $100 as a base cost, but by the end it might be more or less than that.

What this tells us is that this is going to be a very low cost device. What it also tells us is that what you will be sinking your money into is the modules, and so the price of the phone will tailor to the user who buys it.

Never Buy Another Device Again

In addition to the customization, it is hoped that this idea will make for a “only phone you will ever buy” kind of deal. You can switch out the different parts, replace the screen if it cracks, or make repairs as needed, and so it should last the user longer.

Elements like battery life are being focused on, and they hope to get a full day’s worth with heavy phone use. Anyone who owns an iPhone can appreciate that one. Though hopefully if this idea takes off and mass production begins after the initial pilot launch, some valid alternative batteries with greater capabilities will have been released in prototype, at least.

When you are dealing with consumer technology, mobile especially, you never know. Just the very idea of Project Ara, which is based around a concept by Phonebloks, proves that. Google acquired their Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group when the company was sold to Lenovo last year.

It is a very cool device, with some real potential.