Project Ara

A close-up look at how the modular smartphone is coming along

We're still quite a ways a away from modular smartphones — as in a device with interchangeable components — becoming a thing. But that hasn't done a thing to lessen the excitement over Project Ara, which is very much trying to make this sort of customizable smartphone a viable product. Our pal Myriam Joire — tnkgrl — brought us these shots from Friday night's press preview at Engadget Expand in New York City, giving us our best look yet at Project Ara.

The device you see is running an older version of Android, but it should brought up to snuff before any sort of public release. Paul Eremenko, with Google's Advanced Technology Projects and project lead of Project Ara, showed how the modules can be swapped at will — that's called hot-swapping for those of us who swap things hotly — can accept and store power, and how the Endoskeleton's bus knows how to handle all that hot swapping.

Eremenko also showed an app allows modules to be "ejected," turning off the electro-permanent magnet and allowing the module to be removed. Another module with an LED allowed for reading the pulse of Engadget's Brad Molen.

And, yes, Project Ara runs Angry Birds. (Remember when that used to be our benchmark for everything?)

So, yeah. Not a consumer device just yet, but still very cool.

Thanks again to Myriam Joire for the shots. Check our her website at And check out more on Project Ara here.