This prototype is currently in what Google calls "Spiral 2," which is a second major milestone in what the company originally envisioned as a two-year process. The advancements in this one include planned support for 3G networks, along with the framework for a marketplace where users will be able to find and purchase extra modules. On stage today at the second Project Ara Developers Conference just down the road from Google's Mountain View headquarters, we saw it working with a 720p display module and receiver module attached the front, while the space for eight modules on the back included things like a camera, battery, and microUSB adapter. These are slotted into both sides of the phone, where they will stay put using electro-permanent magnets, though in these prototype versions they simply slide in.
Google today explained how you’ll actually get them off while the phone’s still running, which involves a software app that can eject specific modules like USB drives. That includes hot-swapping a dying battery with a fresh one while your phone is still running, something Project Ara's team says it can currently maintain for about 30 seconds (although we weren’t able to test that claim). The eventual goal is to give users 1 to 2 minutes to make the change.
GOOGLE'S MOVED THE MAGNETS RIGHT TO THE PHONE'S FRAME
Coming up after this version is Spiral 3, which will add things like 4G LTE, support for anywhere between 20 to 30 different modules, and what Google hopes will be all-day battery life. After that, Google plans to do a market pilot in Puerto Rico in the second half of this year where people will actually be able to buy one, from food trucks no less.