It feels like over the last year, Google Glass went on a roller coaster ride that spanned the first half of the infamous hype cycle. It went from rumored prototype to completely overhyped object of one of tech's most spectacular demos to the butt of jokes on late night TV. Until this week, however, we never quite saw what Glass was really capable of because Google had purposely kept many of its capabilities back from developers. The way developers created apps for Glass until now was more akin to writing a web app than writing an app for the Android operating system Glass runs on. With the “sneak peek” release of the Glass Development Kit (GDK) this week, however, Glass can finally live up to its full potential.

While it was always fun to get alerts for breaking news, Field Trip notifications about cool stuff around you and use Glass's built-in navigation tool, the field is now wide open for way more interesting applications. None of these apps, however, run on the device itself. As Google notes, if your app needs real-time user interaction and access to hardware, the new GDK is the way to go, while the older Mirror API will remain available for all other kinds of apps (and developers can combine both, as well).

The GDK makes augmented reality apps on Glass a reality, for example. At the GDK launch, Word Lens for Glass also made its public debut, for example, which is probably the coolest Glass app available right now. Just like Word Lens on your phone, the Glass app can take any text you look at and translate it word by word. It's not a Google Translate-like machine translation but simply a dictionary-like experience that doesn't take context into account, but it's still a really cool way of using Glass and shows the potential of the technology.
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