Google Glass Explorers are at the end of their unusual journey, as Google announced today that it's ending the beta-testing program. No new Explorer Editions will be sold after Monday.
That sparked provocative headlines about Google Glass "being pulled," but really, according to Google, the controversial wearable is simply graduating from its secretive Google X labs.
The next version of Google Glass falls under the direction of Nest CEO Tony Fadell (though it isn't a Nest product), and there's a lot of hope that we'll see the next iteration at Google IO 2015 this summer.
What does the future hold for Google Glass in the coming months? The company isn't saying just yet, so we decided to ask for the opinions the next best people: Explorers we've met over the past two years.
Google Glass driving ticket recipient, app developer and director at APX Labs
I think Google X works very different and with different resources than Google itself, so this change should bring way more resources to the Glass team.
Obviously the new leadership will add a lot in terms of making it a consumer gig and a product that reaches and delights customers. More power, processing capabilities, improvements on design are the main things I'd expect.
I believe we will see a more streamlined device with more app support and a much lower price. Cleaner look and simplified user experience.
I think we're going to see a refined, visually pleasing, more powerful Google Glass. Knowing Google's focus on design, use and user experience, I believe we're going to see a beautiful step forward with the device and how it's used.
I think the next features will continue focusing on addressing some of the main concerns that Explorers have, such as battery life and customization (left/right-eye). I also think it will become more integrated with our devices that we have now, whether it is more integration with Android via Android Wear, as we saw in the last update, or something like that.
Either way, I think the biggest thing for what's next is the continual push, whether by Explorers or Google, to show that wearables are an exciting new area in technology that can change peoples' lives and how we live.
I am extremely excited that the project is being taken over by Tony Fadell. I think that Google had a little bit of trouble through the experimentation phase appealing to the mass consumer, so I think it was a logical step to throw a "product guy" on the team. As for Glass itself, I am looking forward to the potential of more fashionable and discreet designs as I think it will make a huge difference in how Glass is adopted by the mass consumer.
I have had people ask me if there was something wrong with my eye before, because they thought it was a medical device. Or once when I did a demo of Glass for someone at my college, they said "those things are really awesome, but you look stupid wearing them.
Some other things I am looking forward to are an improved UI and a better camera. I'm a photographer and there is a saying "the best camera is the one you always have with you." I have found that to be very true, as I have been increasingly taking shots with my phone and Glass.
To go public and be on-the-shelf, the beta phase must come to a close, our job #GlassFamily is done after 2 years of testing
I think possibly a unit with built-in projector based on filed patents. I hope we will be seeing a slightly more fashionable device in the near future for consumers. Based on the feedback I have received from around the world, it would be wildly popular in the consumer market at the right price point.
For me the best thing was being able to capture memories without ever stepping out of the moment or putting a device in front of my face. I have never been a person to whip out a cell phone for pictures so what I would end up with was limited. Having Glass, I have been able to capture moments that would otherwise pass and be forgotten.
Design is definitely something that will change. Now that they have manipulated the software a bit and have gathered enough data as to how users enjoy Glass, it should be fairly easy to pair up with vendors and make Glass a more affordable accessory for everyday life. In the next version of the product I expect a minimal design with more customization and the latest version of Android.
I think Google will bring back the video calling feature of Hangouts which was their initial selling point. I also think the device will no longer be just Glass as we know it but rather an earpiece bluetooth for audio and one "Glass" attachment to any frame or possibly even contact lens. The nanotechnology is already there for this kind of thing and I'm sure they want to turn heads. It will be a long time before they launch their final product because there was so much initial data gathered.
It's hard to say. Everyone obviously wants a sexier, sleeker device (invisible) with increased functionality and I think it'll come to that - I'm just not sure when. To this day, using Glass was one of the most magical experiences I've ever had with a technology product. Hearing that Tony Fadell is in charge really piques my interest because of his past and I'm excited to see where it goes from here.
They have to accomplish three things to make this successful beyond a beta product, including a lower price, a less-intrusive design and a smaller battery that provides more time on a single charge. That's a lot to ask for from any new technology so it wouldn't surprise me if this takes quite a while to develop.
It seems to me that they probably captured all they could from the Explorer program and are ready to move into the next phase, which is a good sign in many ways. Wearables are going to become commonplace someday, and we Explorers will look back and laugh at how we chose to walk around with the brick-style cell phones of wearable tech.
I expect the new hardware to come in at an affordable price, perhaps closer in pricing to the high end Android wear devices. I expect that Hangouts Video Calls will return. This was a feature I sorely missed when it was removed with the Android KitKat update.
I picture a day of a HUD that is even more location aware, but not obtrusive in the Minority Report sense. Just a more elaborate Google Now completely integrated in Glass. Perhaps even a control setting on how much info it serves you.
It'd do things like, when I walk into a restaurant, remind me what I've ordered in the past. Remind me what I said I'd try next when I'd come back, order it and even pay inside the Google Wallet Glass app.
When I'm in China Town, it'd automatically detect and translate signs for me, and automatically subtitle conversations spoken to me. When I'm backpacking it'd automatically map the environment for Google Maps using an integrated Project Tango. And maybe even better turn-by-turn directions while hiking or rock climbing because someone else has mapped it all already.
But most importantly (fingers crossed) a bigger battery life to support it all without sacrificing its stylish looks.
After seeing Sergey Brin on the floor at CES this year, literally anything is possible! I've read some things about a Glass contact lens but I'm not sure that's the next step for Google... yet.
In my mind, an improved Google Glass device would include a modular prism suitable for the left AND right eye. Possibly a prism above both eyes to allow for a wider field of view.
I'd also tweak the voice dictation a little more. The microphone is surprisingly great in most environments, even noisy ones, but there's always room for improvement. For those times, I'd love to see a basic keyboard option in the MyGlass app - maybe even some sort of air keyboard.
A huge improvement for Glass would be the ability to fold them up. As the device is now, there's no other way to store it other than putting Glass on your head, carrying around a large microfiber bag with little protection or a larger, reinforced case. This becomes a particular challenge when using the sunglasses accessory or the prescription lenses. Not only is the user trying to protect the integrity of the device but also the safety of the accessory.
In the same vein, weatherproofing Glass is also needed. Where I realize making the device waterproof may not be viable, weatherproofing it would be a welcome middle ground. I live in Florida where it's mostly warm and quite humid year round. As part of the Glass Explorer program, I've had a grand total of six devices and all three of the XE series. Half of those replacements were due to software issues but the other half were hardware related, being mainly the foil on the side of Glass's prism; either it bubbled or simply flaked off. Without the foil in place, seeing the projection display is very difficult, and in extreme cases, impossible.
- Read our updated Google Glass review