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Google Wants to Teach Developers How to Build Modular Smartphones

You may recall Phonebloks – a conceptual, modular phone that was seeking to change the pattern of obsolete technology. Now, that phone may be coming to a developer near you.

Starting this April, Google will be hosting conferences in order to share its newest tech gadget, the Phonebloks, renamed, Ara. The conferences will be held in California to a small group of live attendees, but a live stream of the unveiling will be available for viewing.  Developers will be briefed on the device, and free MDKs (Module Developor’s Kit) will be available in early April for interested parties. The MDK will allow developers to create unique features for hardware modules that can improve on the existing Phonebloks models, which have been, up until now, only cosmetically tuned by users.

We plan a series of three Ara Developers’ Conferences throughout 2014. The first of these will focus on the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers’ Kit (MDK). The MDK, which we expect to release online in early April, is a free and open platform specification and reference implementation that contains everything you need to develop an Ara module. The Developers’ Conference will consist of a detailed walk-through of existing and planned features of the Ara platform, a briefing and community feedback sessions on the alpha MDK, and an announcement of a series of prize challenges for module developers. The complete Developers’ Conference agenda will be out in the next few weeks at projectara.com.

The modular phone project actually originated from Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, the only portion of Motorola Google is keeping from its S2.91 billion sale to Lenovo. It’s too early to tell the cost of the units, but Google is aiming for a $50 price point that’s much lower than its ambitious Google Glass, which went through a similar public development phase.

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