Google has officially released specifications and application programming interfaces for its Glass Explorer editions, a beta program designed to generate developer interest, apps, buzz and improvements for a broader rollout. Naturally, this Glass kickoff, which will probably ramp until Google I/O next month, brings a lot of documentation to digest.
Glass apps will use Java and Python to write applications. According to Google's Mirror API, developers can use either language for a quick start project. The aim of the quick start is to create a Glass app and modify it. Play around, but first you'll need a Google App Engine instance.
Google is keeping a lid on what developers can do. For now, Google's developer terms of service mean no advertisements in Glass clients, no data can be used for ads or data and you can't collect payments. Google Glass apps must use official Google distribution channels. The moves are the opposite of the Wild West ways of Android. On the surface, this makes sense. Why? Glasses are more personal from a device perspective. Google doesn't want any horror stories with Glass.
Google Glass will be a big business, though. It's a bit hard to believe that Glass could not be a big business. Google has partnered with big-name venture capitalists, has an ad network that pays the bills and is going to get a treasure trove of data. Monetization will follow for sure.
Specifications for Google Glass are interesting. Google will have 12 GB of usable memory synced with Google cloud storage and 16GB Flash memory total. Battery should last a full day, but an app like Google Hangouts, which will probably be popular, will drain the charge.
You can't resell Google Glass. Google specifically notes that you can give them as a gift, but there will be no black market for them. I give that five minutes once Google Glass actually ships.
Consumer Google accounts can be connected to Google Glass. No corporate connections yet. The real interesting connection for enterprises would be service-oriented businesses and Google Glass. For now, Google Glass is all about individual accounts. Google Apps access will certainly follow at some point.
The business implications for Google Glass will appear later. Google Glass could become a productivity tool. Presentations, location data, sales information and real-time information on the go could be handy. You could also picture a person on an oil rig giving a real-time, real-world view of a product to a manager in Dubai.
Google Glass is an ecosystem play. The connections to other Google services are everywhere you turn with Google Glass. Glass really is a Web application in many respects. You're tied into Google's cloud and data more than ever. That reality is likely to cause a few privacy concerns.
With the Google Glass program, the search giant could finally become the hardware player it wants to be. Forget the Chromebook. Motorola Mobility? Chromebox? Nexus devices? Also let's stop pretending smart watches will matter. Google's hardware efforts are really just a warm-up act to Google Glass. If successful — and Google has the ecosystem, buzz and resources to stick with it — Glass will be the first original hardware made by the search giant that can capture the public's imagination. Google Glass could be Google's iPad or iPhone.