Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing Google Glass runs Android - so what

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It’s a rainy Saturday morning, perhaps that explains why world tech media seems so concerned that Google’s new Glass runs Android as its operating system. What were they expecting - Windows RT or iOS.

Headlines like the Register’s ‘Google’s Page (CEO Larry Page) drops the A-bomb’ are just plain sensational and point to a lack of real news last night.

Fact: Glass needs an operating system. Android (which Google owns and is a pretty good gatekeeper for) is an embedded OS that runs on ARM processors and miniscule memory. All the device needs to do is deliver Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connectivity, control audio and video - and that’s Glass. It is not rocket science but the miniaturisation and design savvy of this Android device deserves recognition.

One of the good things about using Android is that it should make it easier to connect to any portable computing device be it Android, iOS, BlackBerry or Windows Phone/RT. This is clever thinking – there is no money in hardware and Google knows that only too well with its need to subsidise the cost of its Nexus products (See iTWire article covering this ) to act as reference devices and encourage apps development.

Another good thing as the 'first' device it may stop the other competitor's wasting squillions developing ‘Windows Shades’ or ‘iVenetian’ – how un'app’ealing. Google is providing the leadership to get other hardware developers on board (we will see major OEMs produce glasses as well) and so what if Android wins this so far, one-horse race. Android is as open source as it can get and so what if Google profits from running the app store.

In fact I don’t really see too many apps being developed to run on the Glass processor at all. The smartphone does the heavy lifting and even some of that will be done using ‘thin client cloud’ computing - Glass is simply the interface as is 'watch' and possibly 'wrist pad' etc. In order to continue to develop Glass as a concept more will need to be done in miniaturisation, power management and battery technology getting the device up to say 30 days wearability – that would be epoch making and have benefits for all other Android devices.

We are already seeing Android spread to camera’s, smart TV’s, portable media and Blu-ray players, headphones (how do you think Bluetooth and noise cancellation is done?), videogames consoles and recently to Google@Home for light/power switching, fridges, temperature control and more. Android Key Lime Pie will take it even further from the mobile device to desktops (See iTWire article here)

As long as it remains essentially open source and inspires the imagination of developers to do more I say thanks Google – I am glad that iGlass was not the first…

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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