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Google Project Ara developer edition phone available later this year, consumer ready by 2017

Google's highly anticipated modular Ara phone will be available to developers later this year, with consumers being able to follow suit in 2017.

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At its annual developer's conference today, Google announced that its long-awaited modular phone will be available to developers by the end of this year. And if everything stays on schedule, consumers will be able to get their hands on it by 2017.

Known as Project Ara, the handset will have detachable hardware components that you can swap out according to your needs. This allows users to customize their device according to their preferences (for instance, someone who enjoys photography can choose a camera module with a higher megapixel count and superior sensors) and let them upgrade certain parts whenever they see fit.

The concept of a modular phone has been a long-awaited dream for the mobile industry. LG's latest G5 flagship, for example, has a swappable bottom bezel that users can switch out for a camera grip. Project Ara has been around since 2013, when it was first announced by Motorola (which Google later acquired and then sold to Lenovo). Though Google announced a pilot program for Project Ara in Puerto Rico, market testing never fully took off.

With this announcement at I/O, Project Ara inches ever closer to becoming a reality. Google even released a new video to promote the initiative. Developers can sign up online to receive a model.

For more about Google I/O 2016, check out CNET's full coverage here.