Google is now shipping the first Google Glass Explorer Edition units to early adopters that ponied up $1500 for a chance to be guinea pigs for the new headware/mobile computer.
This is the first time Google is sending Glass units to folks who don’t work for the company, and Google is releasing a lot of new information about the device.
Google Glass is a wearable computer that fits on your face much like a pair of glasses. But while glasses help you see, Google Glass helps you search, shoot video, and interact with other apps.
There’s a small display that hangs out just above one eye, allowing you to look up and see data as if it were floating in the air in front of you.
On the one hand, it seems like a computer screen floating in front of your face would be more distracting than the smartphone that you can pull out of your pocket. But part of the idea of Glass is that it could be less obtrusive than a smartphone, since you don’t have to pull it out of your pocket. It’s always there when you need it, and inactive when you don’t.
That’s the general idea, but here are some of the specifics:
- Glass has 16GB of storage, 12GB of which is available to users for storing pictures, app data, or other files.
- The built-in camera can take 5MP photos or shoot 720p video.
- Google says the display is the equivalent of having a 25-inch HD display about 8 feet from your face.
- Glass features 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth and can connect to the internet by pairing with your phone.
- You can charge Glas with a microUSB cable, and it should run for about a full day… as long as you don’t do a lot of video recording.
- There’s a bone conduction transducer for audio.
- The nosepads are adjustable and the kit comes with extra nosepads in additional sizes.
A new MyGlass app is available for Android devices, letting users manage and configure a Glass device using a phone or smartphone running Android 4.0.3 or later.
Google has also released a Google Mirror API for developers to write “Glassware,” or apps that run on Google Glass. Right now the API is pretty basic, allowing developers to write relatively simple apps. But that’s kind of the point — Google emphasizes that apps should get out of the way when you’re not using them.
Interestingly, Google is also prohibiting developers from including ads in their apps or charging for Glassware… at least not yet. That seems consistent with the idea that apps are supposed to be unobtrusive, but a bit inconsistent with the way Google and most app developers make a living.
It’s possible that the prohibition on advertising and paid apps will only last while Glass is effectively in beta testing. Despite the relatively high $1500 price tag for a Google Glass unit right now, the Explorer Edition devices that are going out are effectively pre-release hardware that’s being supplied in limited quantities to folks looking to test and help expand the platform.
The terms of service also prohibit Glass users from selling, lending, or giving away their units. Or rather, there’s nothing stopping you from doing those things… but Google reserves the right to deactivate a device if it’s been transferred to a new owner.