Reports on Friday confirmed that Google's forthcoming wearable computing device, Google Glass, will to some extent be compatible with Apple's iPhone, but the degree of interoperability between the two devices remains a mystery.
Earlier on Friday, The Verge's Joshua Topolsky posted a first-person account of his experience trying out Google's face-mounted device. In it, Topolsky described the device's connectivity options as such:
The device gets data through Wi-Fi on its own, or it can tether via Bluetooth to an Android device or iPhone and use its 3G or 4G data while out and about. Thereâs no cellular radio in Glass, but it does have a GPS chip.
The manner in which Glass connects to a mobile device may determine a good deal of its functionality, especially given the tasks Google has shown the device performing. Demo videos for Glass show users snapping pictures, recording videos, and sending and receiving texts messages.
For Android devices, where Google controls the platform and will likely build in compatibility, this is no problem. For Apple's iPhone, though, Google could run into issues with APIs. iOS has APIs to allow devices â such as the Pebble and Metawatch smartwatches â to display text messages and iMessages from an iPhone. Those devices, though, skirt the issue by having their own custom-built apps running on the iPhone, limiting systems-level access.
Speaking to Glass's interoperability with the iPhone, a Google representative told AppleInsider that the device has its own Wi-Fi, has no cellular radio, has a GPS chip, and can tether via Bluetooth to an Android or iPhone device to access data: the same details reported by Topolsky.
Asked if this meant that Glass would have its own dedicated app on either platform or if Android would benefit from added functionality not available to iPhone users, we were told that the company had "no further details to share right now."
It seems unlikely that Google would limit Glass' capabilities on a rival platform, given the company's willingness to bring its services to Apple's iOS. Still, questions remain regarding just how much Glass will be able to do and how it will manage to do so. Google will likely reveal more about the device in the lead up to this year's Google I/O, given the device is expected to launch later this year for around $1,400.