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Remember Google’s Project Ara, the crazy DIY modular smartphone? Google has shown it off a couple of times in the past, but there were always problems with the various builds. Not this time! Google engineer Rafa Camargo took the stage during the ATAP session of Google I/O and built a Project Ara smartphone right before everyone’s eyes.

Camargo added modules to the phone, booted it up with the latest version of Android, and did the thing you do with smartphones and crowds nowadays: he took a picture. So Project Ara is functional, we know that much. We still have no idea when we’ll get our hands on it, but at least we know that it’s still in the works.

For those who don’t remember, Project Ara is a smartphone that can be upgraded in much the same way you would upgrade a computer. Instead of just upgrading to an entirely new phone every year, Project Ara allows you to swap out components – RAM, processor, camera – and replace them with improved versions. And you won’t just be upgrading the core hardware, you’ll be customizing the phone by leaving out things you don’t want and using that space for things that you do want. It’s a killer idea and it’s exciting to see it in action, as brief as the demonstration was.

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