Google Glass Explorers are in for a treat today as the monthly update to Google's wearable computer is starting to rollout right now. This update continues the trend of incremental improvements to the device, but Google is at least responding to some user requests with XE8.
Google is continuing to make its monthly Glass updates available in a timely manner. The newest version of the wearable firmware, XE7, is now ready to download on the Google Glass Developers page, right alongside the two older downloads. It's a beefy 346MB package, delivered in the usual ZIP format.
XE7 adds a ton of new features for Glass testers and developers, including more varied "ok glass" commands and contextual actions, improvements to search functionality, an updated home screen, and better contact management and sharing.
If you can afford a Tesla electric car (in addition to the car you drive when you have to go more than three hundred miles), odds are pretty good that you can afford a Google Glass Explorer unit, too. If you happen to have both, in addition to the envy of every working class geek on the Internet, a developer has just enabled you to combine your favorite technological excesses. GLASSTESLA mixes the functions of the official Tesla app with the always-on, ever-ready nature of Glass to make you and your car into an ultra-efficient crime-fighting duo.
Google's elite team of Glass Explorer Program testers are getting an update today to XE7. The full changelog has been posted this time as well. Previous updates were only broken down in the private Explorer community. There are some substantial improvements this time, including a way to stream YouTube to Glass.
Google Glass is an extraordinary device. Like the Apple II, the Palm Pilot, and the first iPhone, Glass is a category-defining product that will quickly become the template for all other devices of its type going forward. It's the kind of device that will have a place in a computer history museum.
As a technology journalist, I often cover innovative devices, or exciting devices, or devices destined to sell millions, but how often, going in, can you say "This is a device of historical significance?" Wearable computing has arrived.
Last week there was a bit of hubbub among the still-tiny population of Google Glass users, after Google sent out packages to the Explorer program. A few of them spotted UPS packages coming in through the My UPS service, and speculation ran wild. What could this 1-pound package be? A free Nexus 4? Keys to one of Google's self-driving cars? A golden ticket for admittance to the Google X Dream Factory?
The Google Glass Explorer program is all about experimentation, hacking, and learning. With that in mind, Google has already posted the factory image for the XE6 update from earlier today. Hooray for openness! You know... if you're lucky enough to be in the super-exclusive Explorer program.
It was only a matter of time before the first facial recognition project for Google Glass was started. That project was announced earlier this week by Lambda Labs, and the Google Glass team has now backed away from the technology on Google+. According to the post, Google won't approve any "Glassware" utilizing facial recognition due to privacy concerns. The key word here is approve.
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.
Google Glass is very much an experimental piece of hardware and it turns out the software has been built with that ethos in mind, too. With root and a few carefully-crafted ADB commands, you can enable a ton of experimental features the Google has built into the Glass software.
Over on Github, Zhuowei Zhang has posted the whole list of Glass Labs features, and how to enable them. Zhuowei isn't a Glass explorer though, so it's been up to me to be the guinea pig and actually try this stuff.