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Google Glass 2: What needs to change?
Just a few months ago Google Glass looked like it was out for the count. The search giant had taken the device off sale, its Explorer program had ended and, to put it politely, public supporters were few and far between. Although a message on the Glass website reads “the journey doesn’t end here,” that seemed more wishful thinking than a statement of intent.
So, what’s changed? For starters, that message is still there for all to see, and while Google remain tight-lipped on Glass’ future, the company maintains that it’s committed to it. A number of leaked patents have hinted at possible directions Google Glass 2.0 could take, and now Italian eyewear maker Luxottica has confirmed that it’s not only working on the new version, but that it’s coming soon. Whether or not it can win back consumers, though, will depend on correcting some of the original’s fatal flaws.
Google Glass 2: What it needs to succeed
1. Longer battery-life
Google claimed that the first Glass could last a full working day on a single charge, but the reality is much less satisfying. Most reviewers found that it would last as little as 4-6 hours, and after shooting video or using certain apps it could be drained in just 30 minutes. If Google Glass 2 is going to succeed then, it will need to do much better than this.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because battery life is an industry-wide problem for many of the latest smart gadgets. While Smartphone developers are working on some solutions to our battery woes, even the most advanced of those are some way off reaching the market. Even by today’s low standards, though, Glass’ stamina was disappointing, so if Google can at least get the new version to last through a typical day then it should be enough for now.
2. More style (A lot more)
This one is a biggie. Perhaps the main problem with the first Glass is that in Google’s rush to advance technology, they inexplicably forgot that they were designing something that sits on your face. As such, they were also entering the world of fashion. Without meaning to bring up an old rivalry, this is something that Apple understands well, as proved by the broad selection of Apple Watch designs available on launch compared to Google’s singular ‘geek-without-chic’ offering for Glass.
By the sounds of it, Google knows that it made a mistake. By teaming up with fashion brand Luxottica to design Google Glass 2, the company is dealing with an expert who can handle look and feel, while Google remains focussed on the technology.
3. Upgraded privacy and security
‘Geeky’ wasn’t the only mistake Google made when designing Glass, it was also creepy. The product very quickly raised privacy concerns as there was no way of telling when Google Glass was just a pair of glasses, and when it was secretly filming you on the bus and posting the footage to Twitter. Google Glass wearers were even attacked by suspicious members of the public, which isn’t exactly great PR for your wearable tech. Next time, Google might consider adding a recording light or some way of assuring the public they’re not being filmed or facially scanned.
Additionally, Google Glass 2 will need to have better protection for users, after hackers managed to easily breach the device and effectively see through wearers’ eyes.
4. Lower price
To put it simply, Google Glass’ introductory price was around $1,500, while the new Apple Watch is the company’s cheapest ever product launch, starting at $349. Admittedly they’re very different products, but no wearable device should have a higher starting price than your smartphone. Google Glass 2 will need to see a significant reduction, or risk going the same way as its predecessor.
5. More features
Finally, people need to understand exactly why they need to own Google Glass. If Apple Watch is trying to be the ultimate health wearable and a fashion accessory that’s loaded with great apps, then what is Google Glass? What does it do, and what kind of person should buy it? At the moment the device has too much going against it, and not a clear enough message of what it’s offering. ‘Immersiveness’ of apps we already have on our smartphones isn’t enough for Google Glass 2, it will need new, killer features that will make wearing glasses worthwhile.