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Project Ara is a huge letdown, says designer who inspired it

by Jacob Kleinman | May 27, 2016May 27, 2016 8:00 am PST

We were quick to point out that Google’s new version of Project Ara isn’t as modular as originally promised. Now Dave Hakkens, the designer who originally promoted the idea with his Phonebloks project, is chiming with some solid criticism too.

Hakkens outlines three major issues with the current version of Project Ara. His first complaint is the same as ours. Less modularity goes against the very spirit of the device, tying customers to a handful of non-replaceable components that will wear down over time.

“It means your phone still gets obsolete after a while,” he argues. “What if your screen breaks? Well you still need to replace the entire phone. And after a couple of years it gets slow and you need to replace your entire skeleton.”

Hakkens also knocks the new design, which is less adventurous than the “pebble look” we previously saw. The current version actually looks more like his original concept, and he’s disappointed that Google took a step back when it comes to design.

Finally, the designer argues that Google should loosen the reigns for Project Ara, turning the in-house smartphone into an open standard. Otherwise, phone makers will be more likely to create competing devices than build modules for Ara.

“If Google truly wants to make a phone for the entire world, they should collaborate with others and make an open standard owned by the industry,” he writes.

Of course, there’s still plenty to love with Project Ara, and we can’t wait to get our hands on Google’s modular phone. We just hope the company will continue to move in the right direction once it finally launches the device.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...