You may remember Google's launch of the Glass explorer program in the UK, which saw the device listed in the Play Store just before I/O. This seemed a little odd at the time, given that the Glass shopping experience in the US has always had its own dedicated checkout process and interface, separate from the Play Store, but bringing the hardware to Google's main store makes sense in the long-run, as the eyeball computer tiptoes toward an inevitable final launch.
Google's official Glassware selection has a new member today - Pandora. As Carl Edwards explains in a post to the official Pandora blog, the addition of Pandora to the Glassware page of Google's MyGlass interface is the result of Pandora's semi-annual 72-hour hackathon. "It was such a hit," the blog says, "that we decided to show it to Google."
In keeping with Google's UX vision for Glass, the Pandora app is exceedingly simple.
One complaint many Glass users have voiced since the Explorer Program began is that Glass has very limited contact management capabilities. Users could add contacts in the MyGlass interface, but those manually added contacts were the only ones a user could correspond with using Google's eye-mounted computer.
The Glass team is fixing that - and a number of other things - in an update to XE20.1, announced today. The update will allow Glass to see all a user's contacts, with starred contacts showing up for quick voice access.
Do you remember when Windows Vista came with a pre-installed 3D version of chess? It was a good way to show off what computers were capable of, and it sure beat playing another tired round of 2D, pixelated solitaire (if only for a few moments). Aside from that, there aren't many modern examples of digital chess being all that impressive. Even in a high resolution and covered in great textures, it's still a slow-moving board game.
The Google Glass developers are at it again; they keep coming up with new ways to burn through that tiny battery. Today, the Glass Development Kit changelog was updated to detail the addition of USB webcam support for developers looking to add access to views outside of the standard forward-facing perspective. Webcams must be attached via On-The-Go (OTG) cable, and Plug 'n Play isn't supported, so Glass must be rebooted before the attached camera can be recognized.
A minor OTA update is now rolling out to the small population of people who happen to own Google Glass. This release, XE19.1, brings improved network connectivity, so Glass should now do a better job of handling spotty network issues when issuing voice commands. This is good considering how much Google's voice search relies on the web.
XE19.1 also brings in a slight visual revamp, as Glass now has a cleaner look for voice actions.
I know, it's I/O day and there are a lot more exciting things going on than OTA updates to Google Glass, but hey, the news is the news, right? The XE18.3 build should be rolling out to explorers now, and it adds a couple changes that make Glass a bit easier to use. First, pairing has been simplified with a walkthrough for the setup process. Second, Glass now has a user-accessible recovery mode.
Google has made small tweaks to Glass throughout the Explorer program, but today the company has announced a real spec bump. All Glass units shipping from now on will have 2GB of RAM instead of 1GB. There will also be a new viewfinder mode when taking pictures and some more cards. It's not all sunshine and lollipops, though. Current Glass Explorers should take a deep breath – Google won't be swapping out the old version for the new one.
Admit it, Glass owners, half the reason you're going to Google I/O is that you want to chat with other Glass people about how cool Glass is (hashtag throughglass). Google has given you plenty to chat about: they've just thrown a dozen new apps into the Glassware gallery, all of them from notable sources. Probably the most interesting is Livestream, the official app for Livestream.com, which was previously available as a side-load install.
Update 2: And now it's showing up for purchase on the UK Play Store - 1000 of your pounds will buy an Explorer Edition Glass in one of five colors. The same free frame / shade deal going on in the US is also available for the UK version. (Thanks, Ben!) Here's the official UK landing page for Glass, too.
Accessories seem to line up, as well - all the shades, frames, the stereo and mono earbuds, carrying case, pouch, and spare charger are all available for purchase.