Google had bad news on Thursday for fans of Project Ara, its DIY modular smartphone. It seems it won't launch this year, after all.
In January, the Chocolate Factory's Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) group said the devices, which let owners mix and match from an assortment of batteries, screens, cameras, and other components, were nearly ready for serious testing and would launch in the US territory of Puerto Rico this year.
It seems there's been a change of heart. On Thursday, the long-dormant Project Ara Twitter account emitted a series of tweets indicating that it had changed its plans – or, to put it in Google's own terms, Project Ara has had a "market pilot re-route."
It seems the Puerto Rico launch is off, at least for now. The tweets insisted, though, that the project hadn't been canceled – the team is "just recalculating."
Project Ara fans have already been waiting a long time to see it. It began life in 2013, when the ATAP division was still part of Motorola Mobility. Google sold off the Motorola smartphone biz in 2014, but kept ATAP, and with it Project Ara.
While it has shown off the tech at an event here and there, however, and it's been recruiting hardware and software developers to fiddle around based on its open design plans, an actual, working Project Ara handset has never been seen in the wild.
The Puerto Rico launch would have seen Google team up with local carriers OpenMobile and Claro to debut the devices, although it wasn't clear whether they would be sold or if it would just be some kind of closed pilot program.
Never say never, though. According to Project Ara's Twitter feed, "this is not goodbye Puerto Rico." More updates on the situation are said to be coming next week. ®