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Google announces new Glass features ahead of one-day sale to general public

Jon Phillips | April 16, 2014
The smartglasses promise better battery life, new photo features, and user-interface improvements.

It's breaking Glass news, but doesn't have anything to do with a recent eat-the-rich political statement involving breaking Glass: In a Monday night blog post, Google announced the latest updates to Glass' system software, promising improved battery life, more convenient photo features, and a more streamlined user interface for voice commands. 

This is good news for not only existing Glass owners, but also members of the general public who might take advantage of a special Google sales offer. Starting Tuesday at 6 a.m. PDT, Google will begin selling the Explorer edition of Glass to anyone who wants to pay the $1500 price tag. 

It's a one-day-only sale, and Google says supplies are limited. But at least the company is lifting the "prove you deserve it" restrictions that have been in effect since Glass first became available to developers.

Google says the new Glass software updates will roll out this week. An upgrade to the KitKat version of Android will grant longer battery life, improve system reliability, and pave the way for easier future updates--along with the latest app development tools for coders.

Glass users will also see two new photo features: You'll be able to send photo replies in Hangouts, responding to text messages with images in addition to words. There's also a new photo bundling feature that organizes all your images, videos and vignettes by the days on which they were shot, creating less clutter in your timeline.

The new update also adds some intelligence to the way voice commands are surfaced in the UI, sorting commands like "take a picture..." and "get directions to..." by recency and frequency. This too should speed up the time users spend in Glass menus. There's also a new feature that lets you quickly send feedback about your Glass experience--a wise move considering more and more people are effectively alpha-testing a product still in the prototype stage.

But just as Google giveth, Google taketh away. The latest Glass update will remove a video calling feature, which Google says doesn't meet its own high standards, and is only being used by 10 percent of Glass users.

Say what you will about Glass. It may not be popular with anyone who thinks technology is ruining the world, and techies are ruining San Francisco. But Google remains undaunted, sticking to frequent Glass updates, faithfully managing the most ambitious crowd-sourced alpha test the world has ever seen, and marching dutifully to a promised consumer release sometime later this year.


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