Google Glass isn’t dead; Intel-powered hardware reportedly due in 2015

Google logoIt's been easy to believe Google Glass is dead given all the problems that have popped up lately. The device was introduced to the world more than two years ago, but it never came close to the original concept. The project's founder left Google to work at Amazon, and monthly updates from Google have slowed from important feature releases to sometimes single-sentence changelogs. App developers are giving up on the platform, and Twitter recently pulled support for its Glass app. The official forums, once a bustling hive of optimism, now mostly discuss declining usage or low morale among remaining Glass users. And unless something happens in the next 30 days, Google will miss its original plans for a consumer release.

Glass is not dead, though. A report from The Wall Street Journal claims that a new version of Google Glass is on the way, and unlike the minor revision that Google released last year, it has totally overhauled internals. According to the report, Glass will switch from its dead Texas Instruments SoC to a processor built by Intel and will get a full hardware refresh.

Google Glass

Google Glass has had a rough life thanks to its choice of SoC. The original unit (and the revision) used a Texas Instruments chip, but shortly after the launch of Glass, TI quit the smartphone business and ended support for many of its products. That was a big problem for Glass since, as early as this year, the device was still based on Android 4.0—an OS originally released in 2011. Glass was missing out on some big wearable-specific enhancements in later versions of Android like notification APIs, Bluetooth LE, and lower memory usage.

Usually the silicon vendor is integral in updating a device to a new version of Android, but with "nobody in the building" at TI to help, Google took it upon itself to upgrade Glass.

But Google's KitKat update for Glass was a disaster. After installation of the new OS, the device frequently overheated, rebooted, and crashed. Many Glass users said things like "KitKat has killed Google Glass" or called the product "unusable," even after three months of post-KitKat updates. To this day, the device is a lag-fest, and battery life remains abysmal.

With the switch to an Intel chip, some of those problems should go away (though probably not the battery issues). Glass will again have a silicon vendor to help with updates, and the new SoC should be much faster than the TI chip from 2011. Intel has slowly been making inroads to the Android market with its x86 processors. The new version of Glass would be the second Google device with an Intel processor—the Nexus Player is also powered by an Intel chip.

Despite the emergence of programs like Glass for Work, the Journal report says that Google still views Glass as a consumer product and that over 300 employees are still plugging away on the device. It's unclear if the new Intel version of Google Glass will be the long-promised "consumer" release, which was initially scheduled for 2014. The new version of Google Glass is "expected" sometime in 2015.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Google, Google Glass

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