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Google News: New Glass, Mystery Barges, and a Smartwatch


Plus, EU officials weigh Google offer.

Google Glass Launches New Version, Allows Trade-Ins

An updated version of Google Glass is slated for launch later this year, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has announced in a blog post on its social network Google+.

The company is offering its Explorers -- a select group of consumers who've signed up for, accepted, and been able to purchase Google Glass -- a one-time option to upgrade their Google Glass hardware. The updated hardware will able to be worn with "future lines of shades and prescription frames." It will include a mono earbud, too.

Google also announced the Explorer Program will be expanding. In the next few weeks, Explorers will be able to invite three friends to join the program and purchase the $1,500 smart glasses.

"More Explorers means more feedback, and more feedback means better Glass," says Google in the post.

Theories Emerge About Google Barges in Portland and San Francisco

A mysterious barge that has appeared in San Francisco Bay could be a floating Google data center, reports CNET. A similar structure has showed up in Portland, Maine. The barges are both owned by an entity named By and Large. A fellow named Tim Brandon, the reported point of contact for By and Large, is tied directly to Google, according to article author Daniel Terdiman's research. Additionally, Google CEO Larry Page's yacht was seen docked alongside the barge at the same pier in San Francisco Bay.

Sources close to Google told CNET that Google launched a project to build a large-scale backup data center in case of a natural disaster a few years ago. Plans saw dozens of barges being built worldwide. This could be a prototype for such a project.

Another report, from San Francisco CBS-affiliate KPIX, proposes the four-story structures atop these barges may not be floating data centers but instead, floating Google Glass stores. A source, unnamed but "well connected in Silicon Valley," told CNET that Google is planning to float the Glass stores from city to city.

Seem far-fetched? Maybe. But despite any clarity on the intended use of these structures, evidence is clearly pointing to Google's involvement.

Google Smartwatch Ticks Closer

An Android OS smartwatch is in late-stage development and Google is working with Asian suppliers to begin production, sources close to the matter have told Fox News. The smartwatch will feature Google Now, the company's answer to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS's Siri. The smartwatch will be able to communicate with other Android devices, and it will not require frequent battery charges.

Several smartwatches are currently on the market from companies like Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), Sony (NYSE:SNE), and Pebble. However, smartwatches have yet to reach widespread adoption, facing criticism for functionality and battery life.

EU Officials Weigh Google Offer

The European Union's antitrust case against Google could potentially have an end in sight, as officials currently consider Google's latest settlement offer, reports the New York Times. In November 2010, the EU launched an investigation into accusations Google was abusing its popular stance among online search engines.

Google's latest offer, made in September, proposes that shaded boxes containing links to at least three competing services appear alongside search results. Officials have asked for interested parties, including Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), to share their opinion of the offer, including the seemingly trivial matter of how these boxes should be tinted.

Google controls 90% of the online search market in some parts of Europe. In the US, its market share is lower at 70%.

Twitter: @Minyanville

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