Google hands out a free device to first 100 Project Ara beta testers
Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group gave us a peak into its Project Ara at the I/O Conference Keynotes last week. Although that showed that the project is still far from being a consumer ready, this has not stopped Google from announcing the first 100 beta testers for its modular smartphone, outside its development team.
The lucky testers will be receiving their Ara modular smartphone for free and were chosen from the 90,000 people who signed up to Google’s Ara Scouts program. The selected were the top 100 most active participants, but unfortunately it is unclear when they will actually receive a beta Ara smartphone. Google also states that it will continue to refine the Ara prototype over the next 8 months, so realistically we won’t be seeing a consumer version of Ara until at least March next year, contrary to earlier predictions by project head Paul Eremenko of a January 2015 launch.
The Ara Scouts program is also ending with the announcement, where it initially started as an effort by Google to gain as many ideas from regular users as possible. A farewell email by ATAP Design VP Dan Makoski obtained by Techaeris reads:
“After 9 missions with participation from over 30K people across 111 countries, we’re bringing the Ara Scouts program to a close. As many of you may have seen at our recent Google I/O presentation, the team’s focus over the next 8 months will be to bring our functional prototype into reality. We’ll be reaching out to our 100 most active Ara Scouts soon, letting them know that they’ll be among the first to get an Ara phone outside our team. You can see a list of the recipients right here! And the other 29,900 of you – don’t worry J – you’ll be seeing more from us as we get closer to launch.”
Makowski, a key member of the Ara team, who’s credited for the design of Ara and also the successful Moto X, also announced that he is leaving Google to join credit firm Capital One, stating: “P.S. Because my fixed, two-year term with ATAP comes to a close next week, and I’ll be starting my next adventure, please reach out to @ProjectAra for any future questions, comments or inspirations!”
A post on Makowski’s personal blog also confirms that he is leaving Google for good.