During a recent chat at the Linaro Connect Conference, Project Ara director Paul Eremenko revealed quite a bit of news on the status of the modular smartphone concept.

The team still plans to have a fully functional prototype ready to showcase at the next Ara developer conference by the end of the year. What's more, Project Ara is still on target for an early 2015 launch but it's another snippet of news that has everyone excited today.

According to Eremenko, the platform will run a modified version of Android L that's being developed in collaboration with Linaro. This custom software will allow users to swap out modules (except for the CPU and display) without having to turn the phone off.

Eremenko also confirmed the modules will be sold through an online store much like the Play Store.

Hot-swappable modules could be a key feature in terms of marketing as it would allow friends and family to share modules without having to power down their devices. Employees could swap modules when arriving at work for job-specific tasks then remove them at the end of the day, photo enthusiasts could swap lenses for different shooting environments and so on. The possibilities really are limitless here.

Project Ara is shaping up quite nicely and although it's far too early to know if it'll revolutionize the way we buy and use smartphones today, there's no doubt that the potential is there. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that the platform is affordable to most when it arrives.