Google Glass Starts Shipping to First Explorer Developers

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-04-16

Google Glass Starts Shipping to First Explorer Developers

Google Glass will soon be out on the streets in select communities as the first units have begun shipping to developers who signed up to buy them at last June's Google I/O conference.

Google announced the first shipments in an April 15 email to attendees of that conference, advising them that the first devices are ready for distribution.

"We've started notifying our Explorers who signed up at Google I/O 2012, and they'll be receiving Glass in waves over the coming weeks," a Google spokesman told eWEEK in an email.

The devices are in production and will be shipped out to users as they are built, rather than waiting for all of the sold devices to be distributed, according to the company. Most of the approximately 2,000 buyers of the $1,500 Glass devices will pick them up in person at special pick-up events in major cities, but other devices will be shipped to some buyers.

In its email to Glass recipients, which was posted online in a story by The (London) Telegraph, Google wrote, "We've been working hard on the Glass Explorer Edition and we have great news: the hardware and software are now ready for you. We're seeing the first few devices come off the production line right now.

"We know you've been standing by patiently to get Glass," the email stated. "So, instead of waiting for all of the devices to be ready, we want to start delivering them to you now. We're producing enough for everyone, but only a portion of them are ready today. Therefore, we'll be notifying you in waves, and as soon as we're ready to invite you, we'll let you know."

On the new specifications page, meanwhile, Google confirmed that Glass will connect via Bluetooth to a user's mobile phone and interact with a companion app called MyGlass that uses an interface similar to Google Now, the advanced search software.

As part of the Glass unveiling, Google is also releasing more details about the specifications and features of the first Glass versions. In addition to adjustable nosepads and a high-resolution display that Google says is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from eight feet away, the glasses boast a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to the wearer through their bones, using a bone conduction transducer that previously had been revealed in earlier reports.

Glass also includes WiFi 802.11b/g connectivity, Bluetooth and 16GB of memory, of which 12GB is usable and synced with Google's cloud storage. The battery that powers Glass is expected to provide a typical day's use, according to Google, while some activities, including heavy use of Google+ Hangouts and performing video recording, will deplete the battery more quickly. Glass comes with its own dedicated micro USB cable and charger.

Glass is built to be compatible with any Bluetooth-capable phone, while its companion MyGlass app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher.

Google has also created a Glass setup Webpage where Glass recipients can log in to set up and begin using their devices. Users will need to accept the terms of service, add a WiFi network, sync their devices and perform other steps to begin using them.

Also released in conjunction with the first shipments of Glass are Google Glass API developer guidelines that describe the kinds of apps that are being sought to help drive Glass use and features.

"Design, build, and test your application specifically for Glass to ensure that the user experience is appropriate," according to the guidelines. "Don't get in the wayGlass users expect the technology to be there when they want it and out of the way when they don't. Don't be too frequent and loud with notifications when the user doesn't expect it."

Some advice on using Glass is also available for Glass users when things don't go as expected.

Google Glass Starts Shipping to First Explorer Developers

So far, Glass has been available only to developers who attended the annual Google I/O Conference in July 2012, where the devices were unveiled officially.

Google Glass is not expected to be widely available to consumers until 2014, according to the company.

In March, Google began demonstrating some of the cool third-party apps that could be used on Glass when the devices were shown off at the annual South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). Among them were a news app that delivered headlines and photos from The New York Times, an email app and a note-creation app for Evernote.

The basic components of Glass feature an Android-powered display, a tiny Webcam, a GPS locator and an Internet connection node built into one side of a pair of glasses. The glasses are lightweight and may or may not have lenses.

Google also in March confirmed that prescription lenses will eventually be offered for users who need them to use Google Glass.

And even before Google Glass has hit the market, rumors of the next generation of the product already started showing up in February. The initial reports, based on a purported patent application, call for version 2 to work with both of the wearer's eyes using specialized lasers that would provide a dual-eye image, rather than the original version's one-eye display.

Earlier this month, Google's investment arm, Google Ventures, launched a new "Glass Collective" organization to seek out and nurture startups that can add features and capabilities to the Glass project.

In March, it was reported that the head-mounted Glass devices would be assembled in Santa Clara, Calif., by well-known Taiwanese device builder Foxconn to showcase electronics manufacturing capabilities in the United States.

In a related move, Google in March began notifying applicants who were selected to purchase the first 8,000 sets of Google Glass when they become available for real-world use and testing later this year by consumers. In February, Google expanded its nascent test project for its Glass eyewear-mounted computer by inviting interested applicants to submit proposals for a chance to buy an early model and become a part of its continuing development. Those selected applicants will also have to pay $1,500 plus taxes, and will pick up the first-generation "Explorer Edition" devices at special events that will be set up in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the coming months.

Rocket Fuel