The initial ‘Explorer' version of Google's much-hyped Glass headset currently only has limited functionality when paired with an Apple, rather than an Android, smartphone, but that is set to change.
The announcement, made by a Google representative in conversation with TechCrunch journalist Frederic Lardinois as he went to collect his own headset, means that those who are lucky enough to already have Google Glass but use an iPhone will soon be able to access features such as turn-by-turn navigation as well as other location-based apps. At the moment, when paired with an iPhone via Bluetooth, a Google Glass wearer has internet access and can send and receive email and accept and decline voice calls.
Although Google has made some huge boasts about how Google Glass is the future of consumer technology, and how it will replace the smartphone, in its current iteration at least, the smart headset, which combines a front-facing video and stills camera, bone conductive headphones and a miniature display -- which appears to the wearer like viewing a 25-inch HD screen from a distance of 2 meters -- cannot connect to the internet on its own. For that, it needs a smartphone. The same is true of GPS: without a handset as a companion, the device has no idea where in the world it is.
However, as Google is at pains to highlight, Glass is still under development and all of these shortcomings are set to be addressed in future versions.
Tech blog 9to5Mac has been quick to highlight that even when Google launches an iPhone app in support of Google Glass, that users will still not be able to access all of the features that an Android handset enables due to the extra security measures built into Apple's operating system. It also suggests that there is absolutely no possibility that Apple would even consider making an exception and lifting said security for Google.
The headset is currently being tested by app developers and by 2000 consumers who were chosen via a competition as Google Glass "Explorers." Despite being chosen, each wearer has had to pay Google $1500 for the privilege of being one of the first to test them and each recipient is forbidden from sharing the devices or from attempting to sell them. If ownership changes, Google has the power to shut a headset down remotely. The consumer version is not expected to launch until 2014.