Google Glass' capabilities are becoming clearer. At the Google I/O developers conference now taking place in San Francisco, the first wave of brand name apps for the new interactive headgear -- of course, called Glassware -- are entering the field of view.
This week, apps were unveiled from CNN for getting news flashes, from Evernote for accessing notes and reminders, and from Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter for keeping up to date with your social network. The new software joins others previously announced by The New York Times and social networker Path.
The apps are intended to comply with Google's new guidelines for a platform that is continuously with the user and potentially overlays everything the user sees. For instance, Google advises that interruptions to a viewer's attention should be short, relevant and timely, so the CNN app allows a user to choose the subject area -- sports or politics, for instance -- for which attention-breaking interruptions are warranted. Additionally, the time of day can be set when such news bulletins can be sent, after which a user can call up a brief summary and a video.
The fashion magazine Elle has developed an app so fans of that magazine can flip through photos, hear a portion of an article read aloud, share articles or designate some for reading later. Facebook's software enables sharing Glass-captured photos on Facebook, and Twitter's offers the ability to voice-post and to filter which people's tweets to receive.
Evernote users can send notes to Glass, providing a to-do list when you're actually out in the world, and Tumblr's shows a user's feed or selections thereof.
One application by an independent development team indicates the potential for entirely new forms of weird behavior. Called Ice Breaker, it sends a notification to nearby users of the same app. The Glass-wearing Ice Breakers then talk, take photos of each other, and earn points after rating whatever conversation emerges.
Other apps were unofficially being discussed at the I/O conference, including one from developer Malcolm Nguyen that shows the top 25 posts at Reddit. On Google+, Nguyen noted that one can use his app on Glass at work, getting "pictures of cats and memes and gonewild beamed directly into your face without anyone suspecting a thing."
MedRef for Hospitals
On the more productive side, there was also an app from developer Lane Nanek called MedRef, which allows hospital employees to view hospital records via facial recognition of a patient.
Google announced at I/O that video streaming for Glass, as well as the expected software development kit, are in the pipeline. And, just in case you thought you'd have to decide between being uncool and being fatally dorky, one rumor indicated that Warby Parker, an Internet-based retailer of relatively inexpensive but stylish glasses, is working with Google to tamp down the dorky part.
Whether or not they are dorky, a pending question is how big the potential Glass market is. In one new survey, based on responses from 1000 U.S. adults, 45 percent reported they wouldn't wear the thing. Only 10 percent were ready to be Glassed.