If so, then read on because in this blog post, I am going to write about my experience using Google Glass.
After the end of this post, if you still have questions, feel free to ask me and I will answer you.
Here we go.
Getting a Google Glass
Google Glass is not available to the general public yet. Instead, you apply online via the Google Glass explorer program and then you wait patiently until they select you. Once selected, you will receive an invitation code that will allow you to order Google Glass from Google’s website.
A few weeks later, I received an invitation code. I was so excited to try out Google Glass but as some Google Glass explorers, the price tag made me pause for a while and think. The fact that there is no way to tell how they feel / work unless you buy them or run into someone kind enough to let you try them. I decided to buy and try them out. After purchasing Glass online, it was shipped and it arrived in two days.
I was really impressed by how neat the package is; it comes with:
- Mono ear bud
- Glass replacement nose pads
- USB cable / charger
- Dark shades
The box comes with all the accessories mentioned above.
When I ordered the unit, there were no other color options except for Tangerine.
Tangerine color is good looking, however people easily notice that you’re wearing Google Glass. On the other hand, people wearing the darker color of Glass don’t stand out. A few explorers wearing grayish colored Glass barely caught my attention (even though the screen of Glass is big enough not to be noticed).
Those shades can be just snapped into the Glass.
I also ordered stereo ear-buds. This is the package:
Once opened, you see instructions on how to mount the ear-buds:
Notice also that you can change the color of the ear-bud caps. Pretty nice idea:
Google Glass smartphone app
Once you turn on Google Glass, you will be prompted to first install the “Google Glass” app from the Google Play store into your smartphone. The purpose of this is to pair your Google Glass device with the smartphone via Bluetooth.
The Glass app interface looks like this:
Here are some option screens found in the Google Glass application:
- MyGlass: shows what applications are already installed on the Glass device
- Glassware: This is what Google calls the applications that are written for Glass
- Wi-Fi: This screen allows you to configure Wi-Fi connectivity in your Glass device
- Devices: All the registered Google Glass devices
- Screencast: Very interesting feature. It allows you to see everything that the Google Glass is projecting on its screen on your smartphone’s screen (In fact, this is how I managed to take some of the screenshots for this article).
In this picture below, you can see that I have installed a couple of Glassware on my Glass device:
To install other Glassware, just go to the “Glassware” page, select the app and touch the “+” icon:
Once paired, you are now ready to use Glass.
The Google Glass experience
In the following sections I will be talking about my experience with Google Glass, how to use it, what it can and cannot do for you and some of the limitations I experienced while using this Google Glass eXplorer Edition.
Let me first start by talking about the controls and physical buttons the Glass offers. As you can see in the picture below, the side part of Glass is sensitive to touch and tapping:
- Single finger tap: simulates a click
- Two finger tap: two fingers can be used at the same time to do certain actions
- Swiping: tap with one or two fingers then swipe to the left for back, to the right for down and down for cancel
Additionally, there are two physical buttons:
- Quick take snapshot button
- Power on/off button
Essentially, this functionality allows Glass to tell when you removed Glass from your face and when you put it back on. First, you need to calibrate it by removing Glass and putting it again (as it instructs you).
The wink feature is supposed to make it so easy to take a picture by simply winking. Again, you need to calibrate Glass by winking a few time so that Glass learns and differentiates between a wink and a normal eye blinking.
Unfortunately for me, I could not calibrate it well so it ended up taking a picture each time I blink! :)
This allows you to connect Glass to a Wi-Fi. The process will take place between the Google Glass app on your smartphone and using Glass itself. This is necessary because there are no keyboards to type passwords on using Glass only.
It is possible to screen lock your Glass. First you have to go to the configuration wizard and enable screen lock. By default it is off:
After you enable it, you will be asked to enter a series of swipe gestures. Just use one finger or two fingers and swipe (down, left or right) on the side of the glass.
After entering the gestures, screen lock will be enabled:
Now when Glass’ display is off and then you awaken it, you will be greeted with the lock screen:
To unlock Glass, simply repeat the same pattern you used to setup the screen lock.
Voila! You unlocked Glass and can now command it again with your voice.
Connect to Mobile phone
You may be wondering why exactly Glass needs to connect via Bluetooth to your phone. This is why:
- When Wi-Fi is not available, Glass uses the Bluetooth connection to talk to your phone and then access the internet to:
- Play music
- Browse the net
- Email notifications, …
- etc…Essentially any action that requires Internet will go through Bluetooth to your phone then the internet.
- GPS: Glass is not equipped with a GPS device, instead it will use the GPS information from your phone. In order to navigate with Glass (Google Maps app), you need to enable GPS on your smartphone first
Google Glass Voice control
Google Glass is mainly controlled with voice commands. Glass should be awake first.
To awake it, just tap Glass, tilt your head up a bit or simply press the power button. Once on, you should see on its screen the time and then the command phrase: “ok glass”.
When you say “ok glass” a series of subsequent verbs / commands will be displayed on the screen:
This is a short list of functionality you can achieve after you say: “ok glass”:
- Sending an email or text message
- Getting directions to (with Google Maps)
- Google search (power with Google Now)
- Initiating a phone call
- Initiating a video call with Google Hangouts
- Listening to music (if Google Music is installed)
I use Google Now on my Android OS. I find it very useful to get short answers for some common questions. Glass allows you to use Google Now features by simply saying “ok glass” and then saying the command or the question. A nice question I always ask when demoing Glass to my friends is: “ok glass, do I need an umbrella tomorrow in Bellevue?”.
Another funny thing I say is: “ok glass, show a video of funny cats”
Google Glass Apps
In this section, I will illustrate the use of some built-in apps and other Glassware.
Browsing the web
Glass comes with a powerful browser. Honestly, I am not sure if it uses your phone to render web pages and then cast the rendered canvas from the phone to Glass or it has a browser. Nonetheless, when you say: “ok glass, google” and then say a query string, you will be presented by a list of web pages.
A single tap will open the selected page. If the page is too big to render, you can scroll. To scroll, simply touch with two fingers and hold until you see the crosshair icon:
While keeping the two fingers touch, you can now move your head in the direction you wish and this will change the view / scroll:
You can think of scrolling in this manner as if you had a binocular and you can only see a small view of a bigger picture. All you have to do is move your binocular and you can see the reset.
You can install the Evernote Glassware and link your existing Evernote account with Glass. Later, at any point if you need to remember something, simply wake up Glass and say: “ok glass, take note with Evernote” and start dictating your note:
When done, the note will be uploaded to your Evernote account.
Install the Google Music Glassware and start listening to music. It is even more fun if you have a subscription to the music service. Just say: “ok glass, listen to The Fox”
Please know that you don’t have to have any ear buds plugged at all to listen to music or hear phone calls or any other voice notification. Glass uses bone conduction technology. However, if you have ear buds, the sound quality is much better.
The music stays playing in the background unless you stop it. So you can have other Glassware apps running in the foreground at the same time as you’re listening to music
It is so fun to ask Glass for directions and have the directions shown to you on the small screen and the turn by turn sounds played into your ear. To use navigation, just say: “ok glass, navigate to Black Bottle, Bellevue” (or any other address of your choice).
Glass’s display will turn off when driving a long stretch but will come up again when you are about to change direction. The turn by turn voice will always be talking to you when needed.
Google Now is the most interesting feature ever. It is not just found in Glass but it powers it like it powers the “Google Now” app on your smartphone.
Google Now on Glass has its own cards displayed if you scroll back (once Glass is active).
This card showing movies because I last asked “What are the movies playing in Lincoln Square”:
If you scroll further left, you see more cards. This other card is showing game result between two teams that I last inquired about the game score:
And of course, just swipe down to remove the card.
This last card is showing me trip information based on a calendar event that is coming up soon:
Email / SMS
Once Glass is paired with your phone, you will get a visual notification when you receive an email. Similarly, when you receive a text message you will also see a part of it. You can then instruct Glass to read the message, delete it or reply. If you choose “Reply” then you can start dictating your reply and then it will be sent automatically (unless you cancel this action).
I was so happy with the accuracy of the speech recognition accuracy and the ability to work in fairly busy environments.
Taking pictures and video
Taking pictures and video is super easy. Just say “ok glass, take a picture” or just press the physical button on Glass.
Let me ask you this:
How fast can you pull out your phone from your pocket and take a picture of an event that you did not see coming but want to capture?
Look at this picture below. I was in the cafeteria and suddenly the fire caught my attention, it took less than a second to capture this:
Taking a video is similar: “ok glass, record a video” and you’re done.
If you scroll all the way to the left you will reach the “Settings” screen. Tap it to set up Glass (Wi-Fi, Wink, etc…).
If you don’t tap it, you can see some brief status information, such as the remaining battery life and what sort of data connectivity is current established:
I have to say I loved Google Glass too much, however I had four reasons that made me decide to return Google Glass:
- Back when I ordered it they had no prescription lenses or other color choices
- The price tag was too high (1500$ without tax). Not only the price was high, Google was not clear what happens to explorers when Glass becomes available to the remaining public and how much it will cost
- Battery life: Lo and behold, when you record video, take lots of pictures, keep listening to music or use Hangouts for a video call then expect that the battery won’t last more than (at most) one hour. Yes, you heard me right. This was the biggest reason I had to return Glass. It is not really convenient to have a device that lasts less than one hour when used extensively, for example a video call with loved ones
- Glass heats up: When Glass is used for a while without letting it rest, it will heat up. You can feel the heat behind your ear. It is annoying. Not only that, Glass will become slow and unresponsive. At one point Glass displayed this message “Glass must cool down to run smoothly”
Would I buy Google Glass again?
Surely. When the price is lower and battery life is improved.