Lambda Labs, a small start-up out of San Francisco, is set to drag us kicking and screaming into the dystopian sci-fi future we all knew was coming. Okay, that might be overstating the point, but the company has announced its intention to release a facial recognition API for Google Glass this week. Should this pan out, you'll always have to wonder if that fellow wearing Google Glass remembered your name, kid's age, and occupation because he has a good memory, or because the cloud told him.
Shhhh. Listen closely. Do you hear that? It's the sound of thousands of developers and modders salivating. Though the system images for Google Glass have been available for some time (thanks in no small part to this humble establishment), Google has decided to take the guesswork out of backups and modifications for their wearable tech. The Google Developers website has a brand new Downloads section for Glass, complete with the latest factory image (XE5) and a bootloader.
Have you heard? The popped collar is coming back. But that's sooo last year now that we have Google Glass. Presenting: 5 popped Google Glasses (combined current value of $7,500 or more like $8k if you count taxes), because having 4 popped Glasses on isn't nearly as cool.
Right part of the image credit: +Adib Towfiq
Left part of the image credit: Someone on the Interwebs, who the hell knows.
The big XE5 update just hit the interwebs, so that means it's time for a teardown! XE5 is still Android 4.0.4 based, but now we're up to build 4.0.4-665738; the old version was 4.0.4-625737.
The Glass Team is still extraordinarily messy; any new file usually has copies in a million different locations. Basically, everything ships in every APK.
So, to rectify this great injustice of the Internet (and because people keep asking me, personally) we've decided to hit you up with the Glass system dump. The Explorer program seems to be all about hacking and experimentation, so hopefully Google adopts an open policy towards posting Glass code.
We are gearing up for I/O here at AP, and with the release of the I/O Sessions schedule, we've got an even clearer idea of what Google has in store for us.
Google I/O is a traditionally developer-oriented conference, but it's also always been a huge source of news about upcoming products. I/O is the one time of year when Googlers are allowed to show off their projects, so there's lots of news out there; you've just got to pay attention.
We always kind-of expect Glass to be Android based, but I was surprised to find just how Android based it was when I did a teardown of a Glass system dump. "Android based" is selling things a little short, Glass is Android, with just a few APKs piled on top. It reminds me a lot of Facebook home.
So, while I am still plugging away at my full review, I decided to take a bit of a break and see what happens when you try and run real Android apps on Glass.
When we talk about Google Glass, we have a lot to be hopeful for and a lot to be worried about. Some of those worries might be a little less than rational. Like the fear that you'll potentially be monitored all the time, which is totally different from how it is now. So, for all the Glass skeptics out there, allow me to do you a favor and replace some less rational fears with some that are more reasonable: if Google Glass becomes popular, everyone is going to start looking at cat pictures on their glasses, no one will watch where they're going, and society will collectively walk into poles, open sewer holes, and each other.
Despite not (yet) having Google Glass, I've managed to get a hold of a system dump, so it's time to have some fun for the day and see if Glass has any (more) hidden goodies for us. It'll also be fun to see just what makes Glass tick, and how the OS is laid out.
APK Teardown is usually at its best when I have a previous version to diff against and, you know, when I've actually used or at least seen the software in question.
Several days ago, something happened that sent a not insignificant ripple through coverage of Google Glass: someone "jailbroke" the device.
Saurik, who posted the above photo to Twitter, had modified Glass' software "while in the Bay Area after picking it up from Google's headquarters in Mountain View."
Understandably, this idea was a bit bedeviling to the press – ostensibly, Glass is a relatively limited platform for developers, who can only write apps using a web-based API, allowing software to be integrated with the device over the internet.