Google is still keeping up in the air the eventual release date of a consumer model for Glass, its controversial head-mounted display that first debuted on the face of co-founder Sergey Brin at the Google I/O developers conference in 2012. But privacy implications and release dates aside, Google has continued to chip away at its ever-expanding list of Glass improvements.
On the eve of this year's I/O, which kicks off Wednesday at San Francisco's Moscone Center, Google has announced new Glass hardware for those that enroll in its Explorer Program. The prototype product's public beta switched from an invite-only system to an open online marketplace last month, where it sells four different colors of Glass as well as eight different types of companion eyeglass frames to anyone with $1,500 to drop on a wearable face computer.
The updated Glass now comes with 2GB of RAM, up from 1GB in the previous model, that will make it speedier when running applications. It also has a bigger battery that, when mixed with the firmware updates Google has periodically released over the last two years, yields 15 percent longer battery life in between charges.
The battery upgrade has been baked into Glass devices since March but hasn't yet been able to achieve the 15 percent bump until the software update released today, Google told The Verge.
Also packed into Google's latest software update is a new viewfinder interface for taking photos with Glass and two new cards for Google Now that help you track shipped packages along with where you parked your car.
Now is Google's anticipatory personal assistant software that's increasingly reliant on the search company's advances natural language processing. With the keyboard-less Glass, Now is a key feature for allowing users to perform searches via voice and for Google to format information in a way both useful to you and suitable to the device's tiny floating display.
Google's refreshed Glass hardware is available to anyone who purchases the device starting today, as well as those who began ordering the device in the United Kingdom, which gained access to the Glass store on Monday. Though there is one unlucky group in Google's ongoing beta testing phase for Glass: unlike its last hardware update last fall, Google will not let you send in your device to get the newer, faster version for free.