In some circles, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Glass is looking like a key innovation in technology that will open the door to a future with more useful, more advanced, and more seamless technology integrating into our day-to-day lives. In other circles, Glass is a fashion faux pas, a massive threat to privacy and security, and/or a tool for the NSA to spy on everyone, everywhere, all the time. Unfortunately for the image of Glass, Google may have given its most avid followers a reason to resent it alongside the opposing circle.
By now, anyone in the U.S. who has wanted to get their hands on Google Glass before the full commercial release should have been able to. Google offered Glass to a limited number of people at first through its Explorer Program, and then it cost $1,500 for the few people offered the device. Later on, Google had a second round of sales for the device that was more open, but supplies sold out fast. Now the Glass Explorer Edition is available to anyone with $1,500 to spare, and it’s been that way for more than a month.
It should be fair to say that most people who forked out that $1,500 wanted to be ahead of the curve, or thought they’d look cool, or just wanted to know what the tech would be like and test it out. But most of those people also probably thought the Explorer Edition of Glass was going to be the state of Glass until a consumer model was finally launched — though that may have been an unreasonable expectation, since Google had an updated version of Glass that it allowed Explorers to swap with their old models for free late last year. Now Google is upgrading Glass again, but users won’t get free upgrades.
In a blog post, Google announced that Glass was getting an upgrade in hardware and software. Altogether, Google says, “we’ve improved battery life by over 20 percent, made voice search 10 percent faster, and brought you frames, shades, and prescription support,” among other upgrades. The improvements in battery and voice search are likely the result of software enhancements, which current Explorers will benefit from when they update. But people who already have Glass won’t be getting that frame support, and more importantly, they won’t be getting bumped up to 2GB of RAM.
In response to comments on its blog post, Google said that, “Throughout our open beta program, you can expect to see us make changes here and there. We won’t be swapping devices, but you’ll continue to see improvements with our software updates.” That means early Explorers are stuck with 1GB of RAM, and a portion of that will always be hogged by Glass’s operating system.
On top of forking out $1,500 to be at the cutting edge of technology, Glass users have had to face criticism, sidelong glances, being banned, police confrontations, assault, and even an awful nickname — Glassholes. After weathering that whole storm, it seems many won’t even be on that cutting edge, and eventually early Glass models won’t have enough RAM for some apps. While it would be unreasonable for Google to keep giving free upgrades to people with every update to the hardware, some users may think that Google is the real Glasshole now.