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Google, Linaro Develop Custom Android Edition For Project Ara

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the things-you-want-to-see-folded-in dept.

Android 46

rtoz writes with this excerpt from an IDG story about the creation of an Android fork made just for Google's modular cell-phone project : A special edition of Android had to be created for the unique customizable design of Project Ara, said George Grey, CEO of Linaro. ... Android can already plug and play SD cards. But Grey said additional OS functionality is needed for storage, cameras and other modules that are typically inside smartphones, but can now be externally added to Project Ara. A lot of work is also being done on UniPro transport drivers, which connect modules and components in Project Ara. UniPro protocol drivers in Android will function much like the USB protocol, where modules will be recognized based on different driver "classes," such as those for networking, sensor, imaging, input and others. Some attachable parts may not be recognized by Android. For those parts, separate drivers need to be developed by module makers through emulators. "That will be need to be done in a secure system so the device can't do damage to the system," Grey said. Project Ara is a very disruptive concept, and it turns around conventional thinking on how to build phones, Grey said.

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This is all good and well but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571483)

It's totally for cock smokers, like everything else Linux based.
 
Use a real Unix or go back to sucking faggot dicks, linux faggots.

Re:This is all good and well but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571583)

Silly troll, your facts are backwards.

Linus Torvalds has a wife and three daughters. Kirk McKusick, developer of Berkeley Unix, is openly homosexual.

Linux is for metrosexual posers. Real Unix is made by real faggots.

Re:This is all good and well but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571611)

Then I guess the same applies to OS X too, now.

Re:This is all good and well but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571715)

Why was I modded troll? [appleinsider.com]

Re:This is all good and well but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571801)

And what the fuck is wrong with sucking dick exactly?

Re:This is all good and well but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571885)

Nothing. As long as you're getting paid.

Re:This is all good and well but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571909)

And that's why golddiggers love to suck cock.

im happy google took this on (4, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47571531)

Was watching this from the time it was just a theory and renderings and I love the idea, why dish out hundreds for an entire new phone when all you want is more storage? Or a better camera? I would love to upgrade individual parts a la desktop computers, and it has a real shot of becoming a reality with backing by any of the big guys

Re:im happy google took this on (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571565)

I always figured you were the kind of guy who likes to stick his tongue in a faggot's ass.

Re:im happy google took this on (4, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 months ago | (#47571623)

I think this kind of thinking is pretty detrimental to mobile.

When you put a "better" camera on, will it have new optics? Will it jut out of the case like a sore thumb? What about new SoCs? Will heat and battery become problems?

I'm pretty skeptical. I think mobile has been a huge hit because of the trend away from desktop modes of thinking. Holistic integrated things are more than the sums of their parts than generic gizmos that are just a random slathering of parts.

Take for example the iPhone 5s. The finger print sensor has been amazing, but it wouldn't work with out the A7's secure enclave. To do that in Ara you'd have to ship a replacement button or have a sensor on the module itself.

Re:im happy google took this on (4, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#47571725)

Just think different a little bit. Integrate the secure enclave into the button/sensor module.

Re:im happy google took this on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571893)

Just think different a little bit. Integrate the secure enclave into the button/sensor module.

You are talking to an Apple user lol

Re:im happy google took this on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47575683)

Lol, exactly!

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#47572311)

Just think different a little bit. Integrate the secure enclave into the button/sensor module.

So you're going to basically give the yes/no decision to the module? Well know, I'm going to make a fake module that breaks the fingerprint security by always saying "Yes, valid fingerprint!"

Oh, now you're going to have to add tons of security to it - perhaps when I plug in, I need to negotiate a set of keys with the main processor? Yes, I hope your Ara modules have figured that out, because if they haven't, well now you've got incompatibilities galore.

Project Ara looks interseting. But do you remember what happened in the PC world? Incompatibilities, unsupported configurations, buggy drivers, etc. Hell, we still deal with it today. If I make a Project Ara phone, I'll test it with my parts. Now if the customer changes the camera, what's going to happen?

Or if I buy a new processor module, all of a sudden I need to buy a new set of peripherals (like how upgrading your CPU can require a new motherboard, RAM, etc. And the move from ISA to PCI to PCIe obsoleted components, etc).

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 4 months ago | (#47572399)

Just think different a little bit. Integrate the secure enclave into the button/sensor module.

I don't think that would work.

I'm pretty sure the secure enclave has authorization hooks to the hardware decryption on the CPU. Even if you moved the hardware encryption/decryption to the thumbprint reader, this brings up another problem with Ara... If you change the CPU or your hardware encryption module, do you loose your data if it was encrypted with the old key?

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571915)

While it has its disadvantages, a more modular design means more companies can compete directly. Instead of buying CPU C0 because it's what phone P0 comes with and you prefer P0's cam, with a modular design you can have both P0's cam and P1's superior CPU. That means C0 will face harsher competition and will have to beat C1 directly, be it on price, power or processing power, instead of managing to sell just because they got a deal with the right manufacturer. That said, I doubt it will work. Many phones don't even have replaceable batteries and people don't care.

Re:im happy google took this on (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572275)

I'm looking at this from a different perspective. If I have a "mobile" base that I can build off I have an extremely versatile micro pc that I can custom build to fit a purpose. It may be too clunky to be your daily driver phone replacement - but ara screams to be the base of things like media centers, nas boxes, remote camera setups - a million embedded systems I can't even think of.

I see this as a way for android to make the jump to desktop OS replacement

Re: im happy google took this on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572427)

I see this as a way for android to make the jump to desktop OS replacement.

Dear god why? (Please answer.)

Re:im happy google took this on (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 4 months ago | (#47573365)

yeah, having options really sucks. FUCK FREEDOM OF CHOICE!

What needs to be 'componentized' is the phone... (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | about 4 months ago | (#47575121)

The thing that makes cellphones so expensive is the phone part. Why does a Nexus 7 cost less than a Nexus 5? I think it has something to do with all the (legitimate?) patents involved in making a smartphone a phone. The irony of it all, is that (for me, at least), the phone function is the one I use the least. But whenever you want a new 'personal communicator', you end up needing to buy a new cellphone, when you really don't need to upgrade the 'make a phone call' functionality. So, why not pay for that stuff once and keep it until it stops working (i.e., forever). Actually, I wonder if that's at least part of the impetus for the Ara project - getting around the patent monsters.

Anyway, I think it would be interesting if somebody made a 'cellphone' module as small as it can get that has no UI. Instead, have it tether to your pocket computer via bluetooth. Buy it once and carry it around on your key chain, purse or backpack. Then buy a new $200 pocket computer whenever the technology for the rest of the show improves to the point that you want one.

Re:im happy google took this on (3, Interesting)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#47571625)

If this catches on, I hope we'll see bigger-than-Ara but still compatible modules based on the same A-size-paper-style specifications for bigger devices such as tablets and laptops. Buy a new camera, put it on your cellphone, put your old cellphone camera on your laptop and sell your old laptop camera.

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 4 months ago | (#47573223)

Think that's exactly it, yes, this IS Ara only at the moment, but when they were asked this at the dev conference, there was much flirting of eyes and 'we're only doing THIS for now' comments. But for phones, tablets, cameras, home security systems, media players, car units, plug in what you want, when you want. This concept isn't anything new in PC tech, with so many busses/drivers/external devices, it's known what's needed. This is a uber low power/hopefully incredibly flexible, driverless (to a point) something new. Plug in that better camera, get the associated app to take benefit of the low light sensor. Plug that smoke sensor into your wifi router for a cheap NEST like device. Have that wall mounted NEST AC unit near the door, plug in a bigger screen, attach the external camera to your doorbell (with fingerprint sensor? maybe versionIII), when someone calls, show the camera view on the NEST controller, and/or Chromecast it across to your TV.

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#47574515)

This concept isn't anything new in PC tech, with so many busses/drivers/external devices, it's known what's needed. This is a uber low power/hopefully incredibly flexible, driverless (to a point) something new.

Yeah, and the support costs would be oh-so-fun.

Desktop PCs already have enough incompatibility issues where updating the BIOS can break your Ethernet or the USB driver installed by default conflicts with your graphics card.

Or even odder ones, like I have a PC (built in 2013, Intel Haswell 4770K, etc) that just refuses to accept the AMD video cards I buy for it. I have a pile of 7xx0 video cards that just cause the BIOS to beep out the "video error" code. Onboard video, fine. Hell, even using an older card I have works. (And this is even BEFORE the driver is installed).

Sure it's a highly flexible platform. But we can't even get well-structured PCs with well known and limited interfaces working properly. (Heck, anyone know the fun that was a Creative SoundBlaster card and non-Intel chipsets back in the day? Lockup galore!).

Re: im happy google took this on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571823)

bulky components and ever changing interfaces that make upgrading possible only while the device is in it's prime. Joy !

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | about 4 months ago | (#47572405)

I said it last month [slashdot.org] , but will say it again:

Size matters. Desktop PCs are easy to make modular (unless you want an iMac). Laptops are harder, and besides removable batteries, only a few had any modular components (like a DVD drive swappable for an extra battery). Phones are much more space-constrained. Every millimeter counts, and modularity takes up quite a bit of space at that scale, because each part needs to be enclosed, securely attach to the others, etc.

In short, a modular phone is possible, but the trade-offs will be severe, and you'll be able to pick one or two things (e.g. speed, battery life, extra features, small size, etc.) but not all at the same time. And the prices won't be good, because manufacturer(s) will lose economies of scale: it'll be hard to compete with Apple and Samsung making millions and tens of millions of identical units.

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 4 months ago | (#47573541)

why dish out hundreds for an entire new phone when all you want is more storage?

The funny thing is that Google is the one who took out the sdcard slot from their phones.

Re:im happy google took this on (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47573773)

While true, the reason was to keep the cost reasoable and not pay licensing. The iphone never had an sd card to begin.with and.other android phones still have them. Choice is wonderful right?

EPMs (1)

eclectro (227083) | about 4 months ago | (#47571649)

I heard the phrase "We are making a supply chain for EPMs" near the end of the video (5:33)

What he meant was Electro-Permanent Magnets described here. [sparkfun.com] Which could have been the reason why the phone had problems booting in the video.

Off topic (-1, Offtopic)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 4 months ago | (#47571655)

Watched the video.
I dunno.
Why am I increasingly getting sick of a guy with a mic in his cheek waving his hands. Not to mention the bad camera work.
Is it because 'the tech talk' has been hyped overmuch?
Is it because of the pretentiousness.
Is it because there ain't no "Mr. Nice Guys" in tech, Google in particular, anymore?
The narcisism of it all.
I dunno.

They're trying to imitate Jobs. (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572103)

The modern "tech talk" is a creation of Steve Jobs. He'd go on stage, wave his hands around, and spew hype. Maybe he'd hold up whatever the newest gadget was, but just for a few moments. It'd be a show that Apple fanatics loved to watch, but it had basically no substance to it.

Unfortunately, now we've had a generation of Silicon Valley executives who have worshipped Jobs. They try to imitate him to no end. While his techniques may be somewhat effective when the presenter is revered as some sort of a demi-god by his subordinates and customers, it just doesn't work at all when it's merely some VP of This-Week's-Hyped-Technology from some other company.

I never thought I'd say this, but give me the good old days of Bill Gates on stage, actually demoing the new products himself. His down-to-earth talks were far better to watch than the modern-day shitfests where one quasi-hipster/executive hybrid after another poops hype out of his or her mouth on stage.

Interchangeable Externals... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571741)

Better than pluggable-into-the-phone, this lets you start using your apps on external, connected devices; eg:

How would you like to take the software functionalilty of Photaf Pro and combine it with your Canon T4i?
(Or at least have the phone act as an SD card that keeps the GPS data intact instead of rigging to a garmin or something)...

Now you can use external sensors in apps that only "know" about the internal stuff...

Will modular cellphones be one of the flops... (1)

thieh (3654731) | about 4 months ago | (#47571749)

Just like modular laptops did? That didn't seem to have gone anywhere.

Re:Will modular cellphones be one of the flops... (3, Insightful)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 4 months ago | (#47572263)

Just like modular laptops did? That didn't seem to have gone anywhere.

You mean like the laptop I have that I swapped out the RAM the hard drive and others where I swapped out optical drives or wifi cards? laptops are modular just not easy like desktop.

Fragmentation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571779)

What fragmentation?

I like the idea in principle (2)

JanneM (7445) | about 4 months ago | (#47571821)

I like the idea in principle. I do think it's really useful to customize a few specific parts - one person might want a high-performance (and large, and expensive)) camera module both front anb back; another prefers just a minimal camera and gets a larger battery instead; a third has a job where cameras are banned and opts to get none at all. A fingerprint reader, a headphone jack, or an SD card slot are other options people may want to add or skip.

But I do not think upgradeable phones are meaningful. After 2-3 years with a phone, it's pretty beat up. Screen is scratched and dimming, the case is scuffed and creaky, buttons don't quite work, connectors are getting glitchy, the battery is dying and both CPU and memory are getting old. I'd want to upgrade all of it - I want a new phone, not throw money at the old one.

different from my experience. Cult, speciality (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#47572107)

First, let me say I think this will have a cult following like the hackable versions of the WRT54, I don't think MOST people want it. That said, I've never experienced this:

> it's pretty beat up. Screen is scratched and dimming, the case is scuffed and creaky, buttons don't quite work, connectors are getting glitchy, the battery is dying and both CPU and memory are getting old.

I've experienced each one of those, but I don't think more than one ever.
My last phone, I bricked the internal storage when it was only a few months old and it wouldn't boot. Its replacement had very similar specs. Had I purchased a camera module, or IR module, etc. I would definitely have reused them. The device before that, the power button broke. The device was still up-to-date enough, it just couldn't be turned on and off. In both instances, the screen and other parts were fine. I don't think I've scratched up a screen since the days of WAP feature phones with plastic screens. Glass is hard to scratch up.

Of course your experience may be different. That's the point, actually, different strokes for different folks

The other category of use-case other than the hacker/maker types may be preconfigured specialized versions from value added resellers. You may have seen firefighters trying out Google Glass. A firefighter phone would have a water resistant case, an IR camera, which is just a regular camera with the IR filter removed, a very loud speaker, a close-proximity findme feature, etc. It could even have a software defined radio module to use as a radio.

Next door to the fire training field is the search and rescue training center, and nearby the paramedic training. Search and rescue professionals might like some of the features of the firefighter phone and buy one configured with search and rescue modules like an upgraded GPS, compass, and a larger antenna for extended range.

Ps - I with the fire instructors and I'm a step ahead on that particular market. There are many other markets, though - extreme sports fanatics, outdoorsmen, MUSIC phones with great speakers ....

Re:I like the idea in principle (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about 4 months ago | (#47574949)

Maybe YOUR phones are, but mine are not. 3 years and it only has 1 slight scratch on the frame. PS: I don't use a screen protector or a case. I just take good care of my things.

bi73h (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47571977)

neeD to join the And promotes our very distracting to I'm sick of it. we don't sux0r as Parts of you ar3 of challenges that to decline for About half of the

Android is crap. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572271)

Awesome. Yet more life for the single worst OS ever written. I'd rather use DOS 2.0 (I do need a HFS lol).

Re:Android is crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572449)

Are you one of those militant microsoft fanboys / shills using a piece of shit windows phone?

Re:Android is crap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572485)

Are you one of those militant microsoft fanboys / shills using a piece of shit windows phone?

Worse. He is a militant Zune holdout. He's probably on a few government watchlists. Their type is known to snap.

Carrier agnostic, please. (1)

bytestorm (1296659) | about 4 months ago | (#47573553)

The only part I care about is being able to take the interchangeable radio/baseband unit out of model A on carrier X and put it in model B and continue my service on X with them none the wiser, or even remove the radio entirely and operate without cellular features. Maybe even swap in a part97 radio instead. Ok, that's asking for the moon, but I can dream.

Re:Carrier agnostic, please. (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about 4 months ago | (#47574967)

You're in luck, they plan for exactly that.

Tough for new features (1)

Graydyn Young (2835695) | about 4 months ago | (#47573827)

This is going to be a pain when I'm trying to convince the bosses that we should add a feature to an Android app. For example, right now it's easy to say we should add a feature that uses a camera, every phone has a camera. But if I want to add a feature that has, for example, a fingerprint reader attachment, only X% of users are going to have this attachment. It makes it a harder sell.

Re:Tough for new features (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47574213)

Cameras. Fingerprint reader. Microphone? GPS? Are you developing for the NSA, or is it just those Russian mob identity thieves?

This has already been attmpted (1)

OldKingCole (2672649) | about 4 months ago | (#47605977)

This concept was attempted by an Israeli company way back in 2007, it didn't do well in the markets...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]
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