Google Glass developers concerned by end of production

Google faced a mix of praise and criticism from people who have invested time and money to test the company's Glass wearable device, after the search giant announced it is ending production of the units.

The company announced on Thursday that it is ending its Explorer programme, which launched in April 2013 to allow software developers to buy pre-production versions of Google's spectacle-based connected device for $1,500 (€1,289) for testing. The programme initially launched in the U.S., and was extended to the UK in mid-2014, the BBC reported.

Google said it is ending the Explorer programme as the Glass project 'graduated' from its research lab into its own, stand-alone, business unit.

"January 19 will be the last day to get the Glass Explorer Edition. In the meantime, we're continuing to build for the future, and you'll start to see future versions of Glass when they're ready," the company stated in a social network post.

The search giant pledged to continue Glass at Work development, suggesting its initial trials of the wearable device have shown more promise in professional settings than consumer markets, where the usefulness of the Glass device has always been questionable.

Google's new stand-alone wearables business will be headed up by Ivy Ross, who will report to Tony Fadell, the founder and CEO of Nest Labs, which Google acquired in 2014, the Telegraph reported.

However, Google's decision left it facing difficult questions from 'explorers'.

Comments posted below Google's announcement ranged from praise for the company's efforts to date through to concern over the future of Google's wearable programme, and outright calls for cash paid as part of the Explorer program to be returned.

"Will Explorers get any reward for being beta testers?" one commentator asked, with another writing a more damning "Never has so much been promised to so many, with so little delivered, for so much."

Another 'explorer' questioned the form Google's future wearable development will take, posting queries relating to future development of the Glass operating system, whether the company will accept Glassware contributions, and generally wondering what becomes of the beta testers that have signed up to date.

Google's Glass announcement came a day after the company revealed it is edging closer towards a launch of its Project Ara smartphone, a device that will allow consumers to change hardware components within the device.

Executives from the search company said a pilot scheme for the modular smartphone will launch in Brazil in the back half of the year, sister publication FierceWireless reported.

For more:
- see this Google announcement
- read this BBC report
- view this Telegraph article
- see this FierceWireless Project Ara report

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