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Google is closer than ever to making modular smartphones a reality.

At the second Project Ara developer conference Wednesday, the company revealed its most advanced prototype yet for a modular phone, along with plans for a pilot program that will put its modular smartphones in the hands of consumers in Puerto Rico this year.



Project Ara is Google's moonshot program to create a platform of modular smartphones. The idea is for users to be able to swap out individual components, like the battery, processor, or camera, without replacing the whole device.

SEE ALSO : Motorola Also Included In Google Project ARA

Google's Paul Eremenko also showed off Spiral 2, a new Ara prototype that can make a 3G phone call. Spiral 2 is based on the second version of Google's Modular Development Kit (MDK) for Project Ara, which provides a reference design for developers who want to create their own modules.



Eremenko said the company chose Puerto Rico as a testing ground for the platform because the country has an "incredibly diverse" population that is almost equally divided between feature-phone and smartphone users.



The devices will be available through two Puerto Rico-based carriers, OpenMobile and Claro, and will be sold through "food truck" style stores. The cost will vary based on the number and type of modules a user chooses. A global launch will come sometime after the pilot program but Eremenko said the timing for that is not yet known, as much will depend on consumer response in Puerto Rico.

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Mithilesh Joshi