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Google details Ara Manager app for wrangling all your modules

Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
January 14, 2015
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We've known that there'll be an Ara Manager app to help Android users grok their shiny, new modular toys, but we've just gotten a better sense of how it'll actually work when Ara devices trickle into the wild later this year. At its most basic, the app -- which should come pre-loaded on Ara phones -- allows users to lock and unlock the modules currently slotted into the phone by using a bit of current to disengage the electro-permanent magnets holding them in place. We knew that already, though: What's new?

Well, what about when you've got multiple, similar modules slotted into a phone's endo, like a regular camera and a thermal camera? You'll be able to use the app to determine which one you want to use at any given time, though it's not exactly clear how the interface will let you do that. Oh, and seeing as how there's firmware specific to each module, the app will also let you manage the updates and "support packages" that'll assuredly become available as developers refine their modules. Beyond the mechanics of managing an Ara phone, the app will provide users will status information (think battery levels, vendor details and the like), but maybe the app's most important role is a sherpa of sorts, a guide to help people figure out their devices by flagging potential issues and offering suggestions for optimal module spots. Linaro CEO George Grey hinted that slipping hardware into certain slots would lead to less-than-ideal performance, but sadly, he didn't dive into what exactly that meant.

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