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Google won't allow facial-recognition apps for Glass eyewear

Since being unveiled last year, Google Glass has given privacy advocates much to worry about, but now they may be able to rest a little easier.

Google said there won't be any facial-recognition apps with its new high-tech eyewear -- for now, at least.

The Silicon Valley company recently updated its Glass policy to ban developers from creating apps that use the new device, which functions like a smartphone but is worn like eyeglasses, to recognize individuals by their faces and voices.

Google said it's been listening to early users of Glass and has decided that it will not approve any facial-recognition apps until it has put in place strong privacy protections.

WATCH: Google Glass through the eyes of an early adopter

"Don’t use the camera or microphone to cross-reference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print. Applications that do this will not be approved at this time," Google said in its updated Glass developers policy

Glass is not available to the general public yet, but thousands of developers and early adopters have already been invited to purchase the first versions of the device. That means the devices are starting to show up in public, and more developers are beginning to create apps, or Glassware, for the smartglasses, including one app that lets users take pictures by simply winking.

Stop The Cyborgs, an online privacy group focused on Glass, said Google's policy change is a welcome move but that the company needs to do more.

"We are not popping the champagne corks just yet. The phrase 'at this time' is somewhat concerning since it indicates a likely intention to add the capability to identify people in the future. Further it is unclear what 'strong privacy protections' might mean," the group said in a post

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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