While it may take years for people to get used to the idea of having Glass on their faces all the time, it’s a concept developers should get used to now.
On the heels of Google I/O, more and more third-party applications will be announced. The New York Times has already released an app for Google Glass, and hundreds are sure to follow. The most exciting thing about Glass is that no one yet knows what the best use for this platform will be — though there have been some guesses. Let’s take a look at some of the finer details of application development for Google Glass.
It’s not augmented reality
A common misconception about Google Glass is that it’s like a heads-up display. It’s not. Instead, users must look up at a small screen that’s perched above their regular line of sight. This is a basic tenet that needs to be understood before exploring Glassware development ideas. While augmented reality may come, it hasn’t arrived on Google Glass quite yet.
Glass code runs in the cloud
The application programming interface for Google Glass is called the Mirror API. Unlike most mobile platforms, the code that’s run for Google Glassware is actually executed in the cloud rather than on the device itself. That means you’re running web-based services directly inside Glassware. The platform uses web-rich timeline cards to show information that utilizes rich media as well as HTML.
Google has developed these four guidelines for developers to keep in mind when working on Glassware:
Design for Glass
One of the most important things to keep in mind when developing for Glass is that it isn’t like other mobile platforms. It’s a device that’s always on and a part of the user’s everyday experience. Sure, Glass is based on Android. But it’s an Android experience that’s much different from that of a typical smartphone. Applications must reflect this.
Don’t get in the way
We’ve all heard this before, haven’t we? The idea of simplicity is not a new paradigm. Phones and tablets serve a different use than wearable computing like Google Glass. The Glass experience must be designed to stay out of the way. That’s starting to be something you’re seeing more often in mobile development, but Google wants developers to keep it in mind. The technology should be there when it’s needed, but unobtrusive when it’s not.
Keep it timely
Another aspect Google wants developers to keep in mind is timing. Applications should be up-to-date and always delivering fresh information to users. Glass is at its best when it’s delivering the information users want, when they want it. Making applications that help extend time and make people more productive is imperative.
Avoid the unexpected
Google wants Glassware to be very clear in its purpose and what information it stores or uses. Unexpected functionality is a nasty surprise on any platform, but particularly Glass.
Knowing a user’s geolocation in Glass is important, possibly even more than on most mobile phones. It’s clear that, for now, mapping services will be one of the prime uses of Glass and could be expanded into other geo-mapping concepts later. Users must share this information with an application, at which point the data is “subscribed” to be in the app.
Information sharing from one Glass device to another is an interesting concept that could create collaborative Glassware. Many of us are using software to work with other people on PCs, but imagine doing so in real time while having a conversation. Glass utilizes a contacts-based method of sharing where each device is a separate contact. You can share timeline cards within an app to your contacts using the API.
Glass offers us a glimpse into the future of mobile. While it’s in the very early days, the prospects of this platform are tantalizing to developers. Since the Mirror API is web-based, building Glassware is going to be different than developing on Android or iOS. Glass will, as a result, require lots of wireless bandwidth.
This move shows that Google believes wireless carriers will improve their data network capabilities, and that the majority of people who have Glass will use it in urban areas where data penetration is high. It also gives developers insight as to what kind of apps would best fit the lifestyle of those wearing the device over the next few years.