When I wrote about Google's Project Ara in February of 2014, it was obvious that its goal—to build a smartphone with slide-in modules that people in developing economies could upgrade as their budgets permitted—was audacious. The fact that the company set a two-year timetable for itself made the whole idea sound like borderline science fiction.
The two-year deadline came and went, and Paul Eremenko, the executive spearheading the effort, left the company, as did his boss, Regina Dugan. But today at its I/O conference, Google announced that it plans to ship an Ara phone to developers this year and have a consumer version ready in 2017. If it comes to pass, and it works, I'll still be amazed—and I remain curious whether the overarching goal of bringing smartphones to people who can't afford conventional ones will pan out.