Tabs on Tech: Google Glass and bigger iPhone

Jeremy Hintz

All eyes are once again on Google. The tech giant recently revealed a second version of the Google Glass device that includes upgrades that members of the Explorer Program, the first group of individuals to get to try and test Glass, gave feedback on. A single earbud was added for better sound quality in noisy areas. Another important hardware upgrade is the ability to wear Glass with prescription lenses. Wearers will reportedly have the ability to clip the camera-computer portion of glass onto their regular glasses. 

Among the many software upgrades coming to Glass is the integration of music services. Google made a big push in the past year to break into the music scene — challenging Apple, Spotify and Pandora with Google Play Music. Music coming to Glass was just a matter of time, but this could represent a big win for Google as it is yet another in-house product to channel users through Glass.

Some of the biggest news coming from this unveiling is that Google will expand the Explorer Program to new users. The original Explorers are each allowed to invite three people to become new Explorers. Both new and old members of the program will receive the newer version of Glass, with original Explorers sending their devices back to Google to swap for new units. 

ABI Research estimates the global market for wearables will reach $6 billion within five years. While Glass is gaining much more traction than initially expected, it still has some hurdles to overcome in terms of social norms. In a recent Statista survey, only 10 percent of respondents said they would buy Glass, while a whopping 45 percent say it would be socially awkward or uncomfortable to wear Glass. Many expect a consumer version of Glass to be on retail shelves by mid-2014.

Rumor Mill: Bigger, Curvier iPhones

It’s been several weeks since Apple released the iPhone 5C and 5S, and that can only mean one thing — new iPhone rumors. According to a report from Bloomberg, there will be new 4.7 and 5.5 inch variants of the smartphone with curvy LCDs. This is not the first report claiming 2014 iPhones will be bigger. The Wall Street Journal recently claimed Apple has been testing devices between 4.8 and six inches. Curvy screens are becoming somewhat feasible for mass production, with Samsung and LG having already unveiled curved smartphones. 

Last year, reports surfaced that Apple made huge investments into struggling LCD manufacturer Sharp in order to wean itself off of using Samsung-manufactured internals in its devices. This is particularly significant in Austin, as Samsung’s local semiconductor manufacturing plant has traditionally provided millions of chips to the Cupertino giant. Apple will shift at least a portion of production to New York-based GlobalFoundries. This is partially because of the recent legal battles between the smartphone makers, but it also makes good business sense as the company tries to diversify its supply chain.