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April 10, 2014

Google releases first development kit for its modular smartphones

Project Ara will allow customers to choose and customise what components go into their device.

By Vinod

Google has announced the release of the first Module Development Kit (MDK) for its Project Ara smartphone.

Described as "a very early version," by project lead Paul Eremenko, MDK 0.10 will look to provide developers with some hands-on initial insight into Google’s project and give them the opportunity to provide feedback based on what they’ve seen so far.

The project looks to give consumers the ultimate freedom in designing their very own customised smartphone. Users can pick and choose the components they want to have in their device, such as a display, processor, and camera units, which be all be slotted in depending on the space available.

Currently Google is looking to produce both small and medium-sized devices for Project Ara, with larger ‘skeletons’, which can include more features, set for launch in the future. So far, only Google is allowed to make these skeletons, so developers may be limited to these three sizes.

"Ara’s success is predicated on a rich, vibrant, and diverse ecosystem of modules from a myriad of developers," one part of the kit reads, going on to say that Ara phones are designed to have a "smooth, flat, pebble form," despite their blocky construction.

Originally developed by Motorola when it was still owned by the search giant, Project Ara was claimed by Google as one of the patents not to be sold when the handset company was sold to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo earlier this year.

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The release of this first MDK will likely be followed by many others as Google looks to tweak and improve the design. The company says that it will continue to launch these kits until it can hopefully have a final MDK ready towards the end of 2014.

The company is also hosting its first two-day Project Ara Developers Conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on April 15-16. It has invited developers to attend and provide initial feedback and input on the MDK, and more than 3,300 people have registered to attend so far.

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