After a few months of relative silence, Google is once more kicking its Project Glass engines into gear, with a series of announcements that relate to new hardware and new accessories for the eyewear. This time, Google is shifting its eyes to developers who will soon be able to see what true Glassware development looks like via the Glassware Development Kit (GDK).
In May this year, Google let it be known that it is working on a way for developers to create apps that can be installed and run right on Google Glass hardware. At the moment, the only official way to write Glass apps, also known as Glassware, is using the rather simplistic Mirror API. The API lets developers write apps as web-based services that interacts with Glass via the cloud, specifically through Google. Google is in charge of syncing the web-based Glassware with what gets displayed on Glass. No code actually runs on Glass. Unfortunately, it also practically translates to limited access to the hardware.
The Glassware Development Kit brings the promise of a more native style of app development, using Java or C, similar to writing Android apps. Actually, it is really similar since, at least at the moment, Glass is running Android 4.0 and, therefore, supports the Android API level 15. Thus it has been already possible to develop and distribute APKs that would install and run on the device. In July, Google encouraged developers to start practicing writing Glassware using the Android SDK, which already gives developers high-level access to hardware and features that are also found on Glass. However, considering Google’s eyewear sports hardware and interaction methods different from a smartphone or a tablet, a specialized set of APIs and tools are still needed.
As the expected mid-2014 public launch of Google Glass approaches, Google needs to ramp up its efforts in getting people to write software that will truly rock the hardware. Google has thus organized an exclusive two-day hackathon at its Basecamp in San Francisco next week. Those who are lucky enough to attend will be given a chance to test out a preview of the Glassware Development Kit. The invitation also mentions a video that will be shared after the event, so we’ll be able to grab more details later on.