Google’s latest Project Ara update was a huge one, met with just as many jeers as cheers. The modular device is actually going to be released next year! But you can swap out far fewer components than originally planned, which kind of ruins much of what made Ara exciting in the first place. Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens has taken to his website to speak out on this, voicing his concerns.
Hakkens is essentially disappointed with two major aspects of Ara: the lack of modular components and Google’s complete control over the platform. From his website:
... the Ara skeleton is a fully equipped phone with things like CPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display. The 6 little blocky modules on the back of the phone are just add-ons like better camera’s, speakers, scanners etc. Things to customise your phone, for fun.
It means your phone still gets obsolete after a while. What if your screen breaks? Well you still need to replace the entire phone. And after a couple of years it gets slow and you need to replace your entire skeleton.
Originally their goal was to 'create a phone for the entire world', we loved this.
Ara is build on open standards, and developers can develop their own modules. Which is great. It creates and ecosystem of modules. However it isn’t truly open. Everything happens under the umbrella of Google. They are in charge, they make the rules. They can decided to suddenly change the connectors, or design. Making all previous modules you have obsolete. It’s a powerful ecosystem which shouldn’t be in the hands of one organisation.Dave HakkensPhonebloks
Hakkens’ concerns are valid and most certainly shared. How will Ara help reduce environmental waste? How is it really different than the LG G5 or upcoming Moto Z? While we’re still excited to see how Ara will turn out next year and how it will evolve, the first generation device sounds like it won’t be the modular phone we’ve been waiting for.