Why Facebook and Twitter Are Developing 'Glassware' Despite Ad Ban

Google Gets Right in Front of Your Eyes, But Marketers Can't

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Glass Explorers -- Google's term for the world's select few Google Glass owners -- will soon be able to share their experiences through platforms other than Google's. Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter are all developing apps, or "Glassware," for the wearable device, the companies said Thursday. So get ready for all kinds of Glass explorations in your social feeds.

The companies' arrival on a nascent platform previously limited to apps for The New York Times and networking service Path mean Glass is getting increasingly social. But it still isn't obviously lucrative for anyone but Google.

Google's vision of a Glass user
Google's vision of a Glass user

That's because the company has been adamant about not allowing outside developers to serve ads in Glassware. The terms of service for any outside developers put it flatly: "No Ads." They also insist that all Glassware is free to download. So while Google is getting directly in front of consumers' eyes, just millimeters away, the source of company revenue that's making Glass development possible in the first place -- advertising -- can't get close.

That doesn't mean that a presence is worthless, however, even in advertising terms. There's a simple brand halo, participating companies calculate, to being among the first to experiment with Google's innovative new effort. But contextualized, location-based data collected through Glass could also prove incredibly helpful in targeting consumers on other platforms.

Twitter's Glassware will allow users to send tweet photos directly from Glass. Wearers will also be to view direct messages and mentions and reply to, retweet and "favorite" mentions of their handle.

Facebook's Glassware will let users share Glass photos directly to the social network.

CNN has also announced a Glass app that will feature video clips and headlines. The app will likely challenge the Times's app for breaking news supremacy on Glass, because The Times's Glassware currently does not feature video.

The Times's app does let readers have story summaries "read" to them via Glass's bone conduction functionality, which delivers audio by sending vibrations through a wearer's skull.

Google also said this week that it's developing a more accessible programming interface called the Glass Development Kit. To date, software developers have only been able to build on Glass using the Mirror API, which several digital agency executives have called "limiting."

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