CES 2015 might be over, but that doesn’t mean that new, interesting gadgets are going to stop flowing. Scheduled for later this week, or perhaps delayed to February, is Google’s second Ara Developers’ Conference. To kick off that rather enticing event, the Phonebloks community has announced the release of the second Module Developers Kit, version 0.2, This kit marks the evolution of the modular smartphone dream into something that is closer to retail reality, giving not just developers something new to chew on but even has something for end users to anticipate.
The MDK 0.2 is based on the Spiral 2 prototype that will be revealed at the upcoming developers’ conference. There is the appearance of the new custom chip from Toshiba, though the Rockchip, Marvell, and NVIDIA processors have not been mentioned. But perhaps the hardware highlight in this round will be the new contactless connection that will leave more space for third party modules. Communication between the endoskeleton and the modules will be handled by a new protocol they have dubbed “Greybus”.
There is also something in store for end-users, of course. Phonebloks has mentioned that an Ara Manager app will be made available in the near future. This app will let users control the functions of different modules and monitor theirs state and information.
Equally interesting is the included preview of the Ara Module Marketplace where, as the name says, module developers and consumers interact in order to purchase modules. Google will have a role to play in this official marketplace, taking care of payment processing (most likely through Google Wallet), sale, and certification of the modules. That said, the responsibility of storage and shipping will be handled by a third party logistic provider.
Details of all of these new features will be expounded at the upcoming Project Ara Developers Conference. Amusingly, Phoneblok’s announcement mentions a February 14 event, though it is most likely a typo as the conference is, at least officially, scheduled on January 14 for US and UK while Singapore and some Asian counties will have it on the 21st. The conference will be livestreamed for those who won’t be able to make it in person.