In an announcement that has created shockwaves across the tech press last week, Google announced they were ending the Explorer edition of Google Glass – prompting headlines such as ‘RIP Google Glass: company kills iconic wearable’ and ‘Glass sales halted’.
But is this actually the end of Glass? Well, the announcement was much more positive than most of the press is letting on. The overall message is that the Glass project is ‘graduating’ from the lab and that they are closing the Explorer Program so they can focus on what’s coming next.
Glass is a project which began its life in Google[x], the secretive division of Google responsible for ‘moonshot thinking’. It is the home of projects like the self-driving car, automated drone deliveries and internet via high-altitude balloons. All of these ideas are a little bit far-fetched, but Glass is now making the jump from Google[x] to a fully-fledged Google team of its own – a step that Glass needed to make.
At PA, we’ve been waiting with baited breath to see what the first non-Explorer edition will look like, and if it would even arrive. Google’s announcement provided the first promise that such a device would be built, although it was a somewhat cryptic note: “you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready. (For now, no peeking.)”.
Google has a reputation of culling projects that aren’t performing, with some notable examples being Google Reader, Buzz and Wave. So, the fact that they have said they will continue with Glass is a very good sign. The unusual part of this situation is that Google will stop selling Glass before there is a product to replace it – and there is no indication of when the next version will arrive. We hope it will be soon, but the announcement makes it feel like it could be a little way off. I wouldn’t be surprised if, when we see the next version of Glass, it has some big changes.
The Explorer edition was far from perfect, with the main complaints being around the look of the device, the processing power and the battery life. These are all areas we are expecting to be improved on, especially as we haven’t yet seen any results from last year’s partnerships with Intel and designer sunglasses giant Luxottica.
What the future holds for Google Glass is anyone’s guess, but we’re excited to see what’s next. The area of wearable technology is progressing at an impressive rate, and with competitors cropping up left, right and centre, Google knows there’s no time to waste if they are to stay at the forefront of the field.