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InfoQ Homepage News New Android Features for Project ARA to Become Part of Mainline Android

New Android Features for Project ARA to Become Part of Mainline Android

Google is working with Linaro to develop a special edition of Android to support specific features required for the Project Ara customizable smartphone, said Linaro CEO George Grey. This collaboration is aimed to make improvements and additional functionality in the Android ARA version “part of mainline Android,” Grey said.

Among the areas where Linaro is doing more work, Grey mentioned:

  • Plug-and-play recognition of modules that can come and go: the modular design of Project ARA makes it possible to connect external modules which are typically inside smartphones, such as battery, antenna, and cameras. Additional modules are also being considered by developers such as for wireless networking, gaming, etc.
  • UniPro transport drivers. UniPro protocol drivers will connect modules and components in Project Ara. UniPro is aimed at providing high-speed data communication (gigabits/second), low-power operation, low pin count, small silicon area, data reliability, and robustness.
  • Secure management of third-party drivers. This will be required because not every module will possibly be recognized by Android and thus specific drivers will be required. According to Grey “that will be need to be done in a secure system so the device can’t do damage to the system.”

Project ARA is a project that aims to develop a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. The first model of the modular phone is scheduled to be released in January 2015 and is expected to cost around $50. Last April, Google released its first development kit for Project ARA.

Linaro is non-profit organization founded by a consortium of hardware and software companies, including ARM, Samsung, TI, and Canonical. Linaro has already worked on Android in the past to bring performance improvements to it.

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