New Google Glass units will include a solid performance upgrade as they are bumped up to 2GB of internal RAM, doubling the previous 1GB of RAM that has been built into Glass since their beta debut in April 2013.
The RAM upgrade is one of several improvements for Glass that were unveiled in a June 24 post on the Google Glass Google+ page, just as the hotly awaited Google I/O 2014 developers conference gets under way today in San Francisco.
Another key update is a new Glass “viewfinder,” which will help users frame their photos more easily when using Glass, according to the post. “When you say ‘ok glass, show the viewfinder’ you’ll see white L’s in the four corners of your Glass screen. You can then either take a photo by saying ‘ok glass, take a picture,’ with a wink, or by pushing the camera button.”
Also featured in new versions of Glass is the addition of several fresh Google Now cards, which will provide information on where users parked their car, plus alerts for when packages are heading their way after placing orders with businesses, according to the post. Google Now, which was introduced for Android devices by Google in June 2012, presents its information through a series of flip-through “cards” that are visible on the screen of a device, providing a different piece of information on each card. The “cards” appear at the moment they are needed by users, such as the train schedule card appearing when a user is heading to the local train station.
Users of Google Now set their own preferences for what information cards appear on their mobile devices. A wide variety of cards are available for Android users to receive instant updates about public transportation, flight information, traffic reports, sports scores, appointments, weather, hotels, events, restaurant reservations and more.
The updates are part of a regular schedule of improvements aimed at making Glass more powerful and useful, the post states. “The Explorer Program has been an exciting ride, and as a result of your feedback, we’ve picked up the pace on making more improvements. In the last year we’ve made over a dozen software [improvements] and several hardware updates. For example, we’ve improved battery life by over 20 percent, made voice search 10 percent faster and brought you frames, shades and prescription support.”
The number of apps now available to Glass users is also increasing, thanks to the addition of 11 new apps, according to a related June 24 post on the Google Glass Google+ page.
The new apps are Runtastic, a personal trainer app that includes a collection of workouts; 94Fifty Basketball, which works with the 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball to help players improve their game by measuring muscle memory that the human eye can’t see; The Guardian, which provides breaking news alerts from the newspaper and lets users save the articles to read later; Duolingo, which helps users learn new languages by turning the process into a game; and GuidiGO, an app users can take with them to designated museums in 27 destinations and through more than 250 guided tours where they can get a personal tour through Glass.
The other new Glass apps are Zombies, Run!, which lets users go on their runs while being chased by simulated zombies; Star Chart, which lets users look up at the sky and explore the stars, planets and constellations above; Shazam on Glass, which can give users the name of a track and artist of a song that’s playing around them; Goal.com, which keeps users up to date with what’s happening in the world of soccer; Livestream, which lets users broadcast live video and read chat messages from their audience and share via social networks; and musiXmatch, which picks up on the music playing around the user and displays the lyrics for songs in any language.
Google Glass Gets New Features and Apps, Just in Time for Google I/O
One existing Glass app, Allthecooks, has been updated with several new features, such as voice commands so that users can keep their hands free while cooking.
Earlier this week, Google announced that Glass is now available for the first time for sale to beta Glass Explorers in the United Kingdom, making it the first place outside the United States where Glass wannabes can buy the devices. Google Glass will hold a featured London Demo Days event June 27 to 28, where prospective Glass users can come and try Glass for themselves. Interested attendees can register to come to the demo event, and they can also register to buy a Glass device at the official U.K. Glass Website. Glass units in the U.K. are priced at 1,000 British Pounds, which is equivalent to about $1,703 U.S. dollars.
The Glass devices built specifically for the U.K. include software that is localized for the British market, including such things as weather temperatures being listed in Celsius rather than in Fahrenheit, as well as improved voice recognition for U.K. accents, according to Google. The Glass team is also working with U.K. developers to provide locally relevant Glassware for use by customers across the pond.
Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of the futuristic eyeglass-mounted computing devices first surfaced in 2012 at the Google I/O developer’s conference in the U.S. Developers at the show were offered the chance to buy early “Explorer” versions of Glass for $1,500 for testing and development. Glass was the hit of that conference.
Since the first Glass devices began shipping to Explorers in April 2013, some users have already been modifying their Glass units to work with prescription lenses, based on reports from users on social media sites and other sources.
In May 2014, Google began selling the beta version of its Glass devices to anyone who wants one in the United States as long as Google has them in stock. The Glass devices, which sell for $1,500 plus taxes, can be configured and ordered at the Glass Website, according to Google. Several options and add-ons can raise the price of the devices.
Earlier this month, Google announced its first five development partners for its Glass at Work project, which focuses on building work-related Glass applications that could interest businesses to bring Glass into their operations. Google launched its Glass at Work program in April and has been working behind the scenes to widen the initiative, according to an earlier eWEEK report.
Also earlier this month, Google Glass announced that Glass devices featuring high-fashion frames designed by American fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg will go on sale in June. In March 2014, Google announced that it was partnering with eyeglass frame vendor The Luxottica Group to someday offer trendy frames from famous makers such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue-Eyewear and Alain Mikli as Glass units get closer to rumored retail production.
In May 2014, Google announced that beta versions of Glass devices can now be purchased by anyone in the United States as long as the company has them in stock.