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Google Glass 2: What’s new compared to the original model?

Despite the vast number of hardware revisions Google went through in the process of designing its wearable computer, the second semi-public release of Glass has kicked off over in the US.

So what’s the difference between Google Glass version 1 and 2? As it turns out, very little.

Google recently announced that Glass users would be able to exchange their existing units for the new models. At the time we learned that this new model includes a mono earbud and works with specific prescription lenses from manufacturers that have partnered with Google.

We conducted a physical comparison of the new model and the version we purchased via the original Explorer Program. The newer version of Google Glass essentially shows no external changes compared to the original.

The only real difference between the two appears to be the mounting mechanism for the titanium band, which may be what Google meant regarding Glass’ support for the new frames and accessories.

The mono earbud is nothing special either, as it works with both publicly available versions of the hardware.

New Glass users get the benefit of the earbud in exchange for the clear Glass lens shield that was available with the original batches, leaving them only with the more functional polarised sunglass clip-in.

It was assumed that this meant there would also be hardware changes, given the waning support for the Texas Instruments OMAP 4400 line and the recent developments from the X8 computer system in Google Glass. Since Motorola is owned by Google, and low power voice commands like those seen in the Moto X are something it seems like Glass would really benefit from, many users found themselves connecting the dots as a hopeful upgrade.

A quick look at the CPUInfo in both versions of Glass revealed that they are both using the OMAP 4430 CPU, but the new version of Glass is using CPU revision 4 instead of the CPU revision 3 4430 found in the Explorer version (see the image below).

This slight update in the OMAP 4430 won’t offer any huge performance increases, but it is a more optimised piece of hardware. At best, users can expect to see a 10 per cent increase in overall performance, which will reveal itself in the form of slightly smoother animations.

In our own side-by-side comparisons, the only time there was a noticeable difference was when using the photosphere Easter egg in Glass. The updated model was smoother as we panned around the sphere, but the loading time was exactly the same.

Ultimately, it looks like Google Glass is going to stay mostly the same for those who upgrade, but we’ll know more for sure once some time has been spent with these new prescription frames. Existing Glass users are expected to be able to swap their hardware through the month of November, so the wait is unlikely to be very long.

For more on Google Glass, see our hands-on preview, and you might also want to have a read of our piece on how Google is looking to the future and wearable tech with Android 4.4 KitKat.