Google has banned adult-oriented, sexually explicit apps from being offered by developers for its Google Glass devices, just days before what appears to be the first such app was announced by a vendor.
The Google Glass ban on adult content is found in Google’s Glass Platform Developer Policies, which now specifically states that the company forbids “Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material,” according to the policies.
The ban came late last week as part of a series of changes to 11 of those developer policies, a Google spokesperson told eWEEK. So far, the only users of Glass are developers who were eligible to purchase the first devices to experiment with them and build apps to expand them under Google’s Glass Explorer program. “Our Explorer Program makes users active participants in evolving Glass ahead of a wider consumer launch,” the spokesperson said. “In keeping with this approach, we’ve updated our developer policies. We look forward to learning more from our users as we update the software and evolve our policies in the weeks and months ahead.”
The policy changes came just before the appearance of an adult-oriented app for Glass from MiKandi, whose Website describes the company as an adult app store, according to a story from CNN.com.
“Using the application, Google Glass wearers could look at photos and watch videos filmed using Google Glass,” according to CNN.com. “The company wanted to expand from first-person point of view videos to one-on-one interactions between adults who both have Glass.”
Jesse Adams, the CEO of MiKandi, told CNN.com that it “made sure it was following the Google Glass developer terms when it started creating the app two weeks ago,” but will now make changes to comply with Google’s new rules. The company “plans on rolling out a new app that somehow doesn’t include any of the forbidden content,” the story reported.
The original MiKandi app would have allowed Google Glass users “to share racy content from their devices directly to other Glass users and online” at one of MiKandi’s Websites, according to a post on the company’s blog. MiKandi claimed in its post that it had more than 10,000 unique visitors to the app’s Website before the Google ban.
The racy app has apparently since been removed from Google’s app store.
“Our policies make it clear that Glass does not allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material,” the Google spokesperson said. “Any Glassware that violates this policy will be blocked from appearing on Glass.”
The Glass Platform Developer Policies also clearly forbid apps that portray violence and bullying; depictions of gratuitous violence; hate speech against any other person, persons or group; impersonation or deception; or illegal activities.
Google Glass Says ‘No’ to Adult Content
The concept of Google Glass has been a hit so far for Google, but some critics argue that they continue to be worried about the privacy implications surrounding the use of Glass, which is an eyewear-mounted computer that features a still camera, a video cam and other real-time recording features. And this week has been an especially busy one for Google and its Glass project when it comes to privacy and societal standards.
In addition to Google banning adult-oriented apps, on May 31 the company announced that it will not allow facial recognition apps on Glass— at least for now—until strong privacy measures can be put in place to protect users and the public from misuse. Several privacy experts told eWEEK that the move to ban facial recognition apps for now was probably the right call.
These are not the first incidents where privacy issues involving Glass have arisen.
A West Virginia legislator introduced a bill this past March that would have banned drivers from operating motor vehicles while wearing Glass and similar head-mounted devices, but the bill stalled and no action was taken in the last session of the state House.
Some members of the U.S. Congress are also taking up the cause of asking lots more questions about the privacy implications of Google Glass, even before the devices are sold to the general public, according to a recent eWEEK report.
In May, the Bi-partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page asking some pointed questions about how Google planned to ensure that the privacy of users and, more important, non-users was being protected. The members of the caucus noted a series of stories in the media that had emerged about Google Glass, particularly about its ability to find detailed information about a person just by looking at them, and letting Google perform facial recognition and then providing all available information.
The very first Google Glass preview units began shipping in April only to Glass developers who signed up at the original June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development. The Glass project was unveiled officially for the first time to developers at that event, where Glass was the hit of the conference.
Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also boast a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers that were revealed in earlier reports.
Google Glass isn’t yet ready for the general public, but sales of the devices are now expected to begin sometime later this year, according to a recent eWEEK report. That’s at least months earlier than the 2014 retail debut the company had been targeting since last year, a source inside Google told eWEEK. The source would not elaborate on why the retail launch schedule is being moved up.