Google's Ara modular smartphone won't be as customisable

You won't be able to change the display or processor, but this means modules can be swapped without rebooting

Google has announced its modular smartphone won't be as changeable as everyone first thought, because it thinks it's more important to offer customers unique functionality rather than the ability to change the screen and processor.

It means those parts will be fixed into the chassis of the device, which allows Google to make the smartphone thinner and also means users will be able to swap modules without restarting it.

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"We've integrated the phone technology in the frame," Ara's lead engineer Rafa Camargo told attendees of Google IO in California. "That frees up space for modules that will create and integrate new functionality that you cannot get on your smartphone today."

Modules now offered in the device include more wearables-style features including a glucometer for people with diabetes, a high-resolution speaker, expandable storage or a second e-paper display, for example.

However, critics think this means it's less of a business risk for Google, meaning the company will hopefully sell more units when it goes on sale.

"A fully modular smartphone would have gone against every trend in the industry to integrate components tightly together and make smaller, faster devices as a result," said Ian Fogg, from the consultancy IHS Technology told the BBC.

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"By putting the front display, the processors and some of the core functionality into the frame's board, rather than on removable modules, it has significantly de-risked the project. That may not offer as much flexibility to users as the original plan, but it makes it easier for Google to bring Project Ara to market quickly."

The original Ara smartphone, which was announced in October 2013 allowed customers to swap out up to six different components. However, the project was cancelled in August 2015, when Google announced new leadership of the project.

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