Google delays modular smartphone project

legiofkSearch engine outfit Google has confirmed that its modular smartphone plans have been delayed.

The pilot for Project Ara, which was to start in Puerto Rico later this year, will instead be delayed until 2016.

Project Ara was the product of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. The aim was to create an Android-based smartphone platform where nearly every piece of hardware, including the battery, processor and camera, is a separate piece of the handset that can be replaced or customised without upgrading to a completely new device.

Google said the latest plan is to bring its modular smartphones to a “few locations” in the mainland United States for the initial rollout, but did not elaborate on the cause of the delay or the change of location.

The news comes less than a week after the company confirmed it would “re-route” the planned Puerto Rico pilot to a new location. Puerto Rico was chosen as a test ground for the experimental phones due to the island’s “incredibly diverse” population, which is divided almost equally between smartphone users and more basic feature phone users.

The company had planned to make handsets available through the territory’s two largest carriers, with a variety of devices sold via food truck-like storefronts.

It’s not yet clear how or where Google plans to distribute Project Ara devices during the mainland US rollout, but the company says more details about the changes will be coming soon.