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Google Is Delaying Its Lego Smartphone

Project Ara will be pushed back to 2016.

Posted on August 17, 2015, at 7:12 p.m. ET

This is Project Ara.

Brendan Klinkenberg / BuzzFeed

Project Ara is a modular phone Google has been developing in its ATAP division. ATAP, an acronym for Advanced Technologies & Projects, is where some of the company's most experimental tech projects begin development. It's based on the Defense Department's DARPA program — and in fact Regina Dugan, who runs ATAP, used to be a director at DARPA.

Google gave a fairly advanced demo of Ara during this year's ATAP keynote at its annual I/O conference. And it was scheduled to be test marketed in Puerto Rico later this year. But now that's been put on hold.

Project Ara is a modular smartphone — the pieces are customizable and replaceable.

Brendan Klinkenberg / BuzzFeed

Modular phones are an interesting idea because they are adaptable. Instead of replacing a whole phone when it becomes obsolete, people can just swap out its parts. It can also be shaped to match its owners needs and preferences. If something breaks, the problem can be addressed specifically. Or, if someone might want to take great pictures with their phone and buy the most expensive camera available, they only have to spring for that, not the most expensive phone. It will even support different sizes. You might use the big version during the workday, and a smaller frame when you're out jogging. It's a very different kind of smartphone than anything on the market today.

Project Ara was scheduled to begin pilot testing this year in Puerto Rico.

Brendan Klinkenberg / BuzzFeed

However, Project Ara tweeted on Monday that the project will be delayed until 2016.

When? 2016. #yeswearelate #ProjectAra

Why? Lots of iterations... more than we thought. #ProjectAra

Google did not immediately respond for comment.

See you next year, Lego phone.

Brendan Klinkenberg / BuzzFeed

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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