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Today at the Project Ara developers’ conference, Google announced that it plans to launch Project Ara as a pilot program in Puerto Rico later this year. The rollout will be a precursor to Google’s plans to bring Ara to a wider market after it works out the kinks in the US territory.

TechCrunch reports that Project Ara director Paul Eremenko explained why Puerto Rico will see the modular smartphone first. For starters, 75 percent of Puerto Rico’s Internet traffic comes from mobile sources. As such, those mobile users would probably appreciate the ability to swap out smartphone parts to suit their needs as they see fit. Moreover, because it’s a US territory, it’s still under the purview of the FCC, meaning that whatever Google does in the market there can act as a test case for users in the US-proper when Project Ara comes stateside.

Google has also teamed up with mobile carriers OpenMobile and Claro, while Ingram Mobile will sell the Project Ara hardware.

Finally, Eremenko also mentioned the different hardware options users will have in the current Ara configuration. As we’ve heard before, the Ara “Spiral 2” handset will be able to run on one of two processor modules: one from Rockwell and one based on the Nvidia K1. The Ara handsets will also feature 720p displays and will be 3G capable.

As time goes on, Google and the rest of the ATAP team will be working to improve the Ara handset’s battery life, its cellular connectivity capabilities, as well as increasing the number of swappable modules from the current number of 11 to at least 20 to 30.

Project Ara is a tough nut to crack – initially, Google planned to release Ara handsets this month, but clearly that’s not the case any longer. Even still, doing something that could potentially disrupt the entire mobile industry ought to be done well. I’m happy that Google isn’t rushing Ara to market before it’s finished, but I’d be lying if I said that the wait wasn’t tough…

[Source: TechCrunch]

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