Google is slowly letting Glass-related hardware and software into developer hands as it carefully prepares the ground for a public launch of its consumer Glass edition. But the latest release, a "sneak peak" of the software development kit that coders will use to build apps for Glass, is the biggest porthole yet into the augmented reality future Glass will bring. And the view through this Glassy lens is pretty impressive.
Anyone can use the new SDK, but it still lacks an emulator for Glass that would run on a traditional laptop—which is how the iOS SDK and the full Android SDK work. That means that, although developers can make a start on understanding how to develop new apps for Glass or to adapt their existing apps for the device, they won't be able to test the code out unless they own an actual Glass headset. Since Google is keeping oddly few developers in this program and only those in the U.S., this means the new release is actually very limited.
But Google did use its SDK launch event to showcase some apps built specially for Glass, and these give us a huge hint at how powerful Glass could be in consumers' hands. For example, the Allthecooks app lets users read a cookbook without using their hands—a great and simple way to avoid getting goop on a device like an iPad running a recipe app. And there was also a port of WordLens—the automagic translation app that replaces foreign text seen through the camera with a translation into a language you can read. Naysayers suggesting Glass could have a limited impact on a tech-saturated society should take note.