Google Glass rolls out 12 new updates

In the run up to the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco this week, Google Glass has been busy unveiling the product in the UK and releasing 12 new app updates for Glass owners. But will it do much to sway consumer opinion? 

By , Staff Writer

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    In the lead up to the Google I/O Conference in San Francisco, Google has announced 12 new updates for Glass and released the product for sale in the UK. But the big question remains: How will consumers respond?
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Glass has been busy. 

On Tuesday, Google announced 12 updates to Google Glassware, the series of apps available for Glass owners. Glassware has increased its apps by 80 percent in the past six months, according to Google. 

The updates include Runtastic, a fitness-training app; a news app for The Guardian, letting wearers read stories and receive news updates; and Shazam, the music-identifying app that can now recognize a song after users say the words, "OK Glass, recognize this song." These updates follow the release of three travel apps for Glass in May – OpenTable, TripIt, and Foursquare. 

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This week, Google Glass went on sale for the first time in the UK, where it costs £1,000 ($1,700), which makes the UK the first country outside the US to test-drive the technology. In addition, Google is tackling the world of high fashion through its partnership with designer Diane von Furstenburg. 

All of which show the lengths to which Google has gone to turn a product deemed strange or off-putting into a desirable accessory.

But as demonstrated by the product's initial reception across the pond, it would seem consumers there are equally skeptical of the benefits of a wearable computer. 

In an interview with Glass's lead project manager, Ivy Ross, the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones said the main reaction he's gotten to Glass is: "You look stranger." While Matt Warman, writing in The Telegraph, criticized Glass as "neither cool enough nor useful enough to fulfil its initial promise." He adds,"The wearable computer, offering a tiny internet-connected screen above the user's right eye, is trapped as a symbol of much that is wrong with Silicon Valley."

Stuart Miles, the founder of technology website Pocket-lint, informed Daily Mail that he's skeptical as to whether Brits will respond well to Glass.

"It’s good news for UK customers keen to play with the Glass without having to jump through the numerous hoops to import it from America," he tells Daily Mail. "Whether it will be enough to convince Brits to embrace the wearable tech, however, is yet to be seen."

For her part, Ms. Ross has been working to assuage the British media that Glass is still innovating and developing to best meet consumers' needs, informing the BBC that Glass is pumping out software updates and five hardware updates and "we're not done yet. There's still a lot more work to do," she tells the BBC. Which is why Google has yet to announce a widespread rollout for Glass, she says. 

Glass will likely get some attention at Google's annual I/O Conference. But, as Dieter Bohn points out in The Verge, by this point it is not a question of the technology or the design. What's expected now is a shift from the "Explorer" to an official launch with a version of Glass that's affordable for the average consumer. 

However, we'll have to wait until Wednesday to see if Google gives us anything more official. 

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