AUSTIN, Texas - Google has started to show off bits and pieces about Google Glass - those futuristic, Internet-connected glasses that show digital information right in front of your eyes. The company has already demonstrated how you can record video, take photos or search the Web using your voice; today it showed for the first time some third-party applications.
At the SXSW Interactive Festival, Timothy Jordan, Google's Senior Developer Advocate, showed off how you navigate the glasses and how apps like Gmail, the New York Times and Evernote work on the glasses.
The glasses have a small screen visible over your right eye. The right arm of the glasses, which contains the computing parts (processor, RAM, etc.), is equipped with a touchpad. Using the touchpad you can swipe through a series of screens or "cards," as Google calls them. You can swipe down, Jordan said, to clear the interface ("like the back button in Android") and then tap that arm to select.
Google has spent considerable time making sure the glasses are not distracting to wear, Jordan said. "It's all about the ability to have it there when you want it and out of the way when you don't," he said on stage. To that end, Google is going to guide software developers to make sure that the apps don't get in the way with too many notifications.
With The New York Times application, Jordan showed that you could select the New York Times card and see top headlines from the day on top of rich images. Obviously, the device isn't ideal for reading long text articles, but that's where you can have the glasses read the article aloud to you through a speaker by your ear. Similarly, Google's Gmail app can be set up to show only important emails; you can also have those read aloud to you. You can also dictate a response.
Jordan also showed off Evernote's app for Glass. He took a photo of the audience and then instantly shared it with his Evernote account. He was then able to annotate the photo on his tablet. Finally, he showed Path, a social network that focuses on following your friends' daily activities or - literally - paths during the day. With Path, you can get notifications about what your friends are doing and then select one of Path's emoticons to leave feedback.
Google has said it would soon ship the Explorer version of Glass, which costs $1,500, to the early users who signed up for the program last year. The company has said it aims to have a consumer product out by the end of the year. It will also roll out the tools so software developers can make these sorts of apps soon as well.
"Glass is in its early days," Jordan said in closing his presentation. "We are just getting started."