The 2016 Google I/O presentation on Ara revealed some of the biggest changes to the device since it was first introduced. These new changes were met with mixed feelings from a large percentage of first time Ara fans. Many of these fans took to popular Ara communities such as /r/ProjectAra/ to voice their opinions. But Ara fans weren’t the only ones who were affected by Google’s announcements, it seems that Ara module developers were also affected. But not because of changes to Ara, but because of lack of communication on said changes.
Recently I’ve been in contact with Ara module developers and the feedback from these developers are just not good. After devcon2 took place in 2015, some potential Ara module developers had to either quit or put a pause on their module developments/ideas. This was due to Google not delivering development boards or simply not communicating period. Following Google’s announced changes to Ara this year, developers seem to be having a very similar problem.
None of the developers whom I’ve contacted seem to be working on modules due to the fact that Google hasn’t communicated with them at all. The changes that Google made to Ara means that module developers have to reconsider a variety of hardware changes which isn’t something they can do blindly. So for now developers have decided to place their projects on hold and wait for new device specifications and development boards to be released.
Despite the setbacks, it’s still uncertain as to whether or not Google’s decision to change the initial direction of Ara is causing an even bigger delay to the device reaching consumers. And this is due to the simple fact that creating something like Ara does take time. Creating a modular device that has a non-removable SOC (which is what Google has decided to do now) is much easier than creating one that does, so we can at least hope that this new Ara won’t take another 3 years to be developed.
With all that being said, we do have to acknowledge that Google’s recent shift in direction for Ara, does mean that they will need some time to straighten things out. But sadly this time is affecting not only the fans who’ve been waiting over three generations of smartphones to get their hands on the device. But also the developers who’ve been hard at work trying to turn their creative thoughts into awesome modules for the fans to enjoy.
And sadly for now, we have to go back to doing what Ara fans do best, wait!