Google Glass is inching closer and closer to consumer release, and in the past few weeks, developers have seen new development tools for Glassware (Google’s term for applications that run on the device itself) and the greater availability of the Glass itself.
In November alone, Google gave a sneak peek of the Glass Development Kit (GDK), released a widely available Mirror API, and expanded the Glass Explorer program with more devices for developer purchase.
“The GDK and Mirror API are two pillars of the same platform,” said Timothy Jordan, senior developer advocate for Google Glass. “The Mirror API makes easy things easier, and the GDK makes hard things possible.”
Jordan explained that the Mirror API is a RESTful API that developers can get up and running with a prototype in an hour or two. For developers without a Glass device, the Web-based API is best for building Glassware that manage displayed content (represented by timeline cards), create actions to interact with menu items, or set up user notifications.
The GDK, on the other hand, has three main factors that differentiate it from the Mirror API: It can run offline; developers can deploy apps and respond to user feedback in real time; and it gives access to deeper levels of the Glass hardware, such as the built-in GPS.
Jordan used Word Lens, a word-for-word text translation Glassware app, as an example of the power of the GDK. If Word Lens is translating a block of Spanish text to English, developers can use the immersion mode offered by the GDK to allow the rest of the running tasks to fade away, creating a more focused experience as the translated text overlays where the user is looking.
The GDK also comes with a feature called “live cards,” which are situated on the left side of the Glass home screen and continually update in real time. Plus, by allowing high-level access to the voice menu, developers can add “OK Glass” vocal commands to control the app.
“The live cards act like a moment in time; they fade away on the timeline,” Jordan explained. “Users often only need to pay attention to recent items.”