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Gabe / on Fri, Jun 14 2013 at 9:50 am

Google Glass

Well I picked up my Google Glass last Sunday and I’ve had a few days to play around with it now. Obviously I’m not super familiar with them yet but I wanted to get my first impressions of them up. I immagine as time goes on and I have the opportunity to use it in different ways, I’ll be sharing more thoughts about Glass.

The floating HUD looks pretty much exactly like what you see in the official Google videos. You can tilt your head up or simply tap the side on your Glass to bring up the display. This shows you the time and is the jumping off point for all your “okay glass” commands. The entire right side of Glass is actually an elongated touchpad. The UI is essentially a set of “cards” that you cycle through by swiping along the side of the device. Swiping from the front towards the back will first bring up the weather card, then local areas of interest and finally your settings. You can tap the touchpad to drill down on any of these cards. For example the weather card shows the current temperature but tapping on it will take you into a forecast view.

Swiping the opposite direction(from your ear towards your face) will take you into your “timeline”. This is a record of everything you’ve recently done with your Glass. Starting with the most recent things you will see pictures and videos you’ve taken, notifications, emails, google searches and anything else you’ve used the Glass to do. these are simple “cards” again and tapping will give your more options. For example tap on a picture you took and you’ll get the option to share it, tap on a tweet or email and you have the option to reply. It’s all very clean and intuitive.

So far I’ve been most impressed by the performance of the voice recognition. Commanding the Glass to do things like “take a picture”, “record a video” or “send a message” all work quickly and flawlessly. What really surprised me though was how well it handles voice to text for things like sending an email, tweet or adding a comment to a Google+ post. It’s also incredibly accurate when asking Glass to do something like “Google pictures of cats” or “Google, what’s the capital of Washington state?”

Its integration with Google+ is incredibly robust which I guess is no surprise. I was not a Google+ user before I got Glass but I’ve been trying it out recently. I’m able to share pictures and videos right from my Glass almost instantly. I can also see comments made on my Google+ posts and respond right from Glass. Because its integration with Google products is so tight there are actually a few things I can’t do with it. I currently own a Windows phone and I’m able to connect it via Bluetooth and use it as a mobile hotspot for Glass but I can’t use it for turn by turn navigation or text messaging. Apparently Android phone owners can get a My Glass app that will give them access to those features but that app isn’t available for the iPhone or Windows Phone. It’s a bummer because I think the heads up turn by turn nav would be a real cool feature.

Other than that, the biggest problem I have with Glass is wearing it around. I’ve tried to wear it out in public a few times and it’s incredibly strange. At first I thought I was just embarrassed to be wearing this goofy computer on my head but this morning I realised it’s more than that. Our current office is on the second floor of a larger building with multiple tenants. Downstairs is a daycare and when I arrive in the morning for work I see a lot of parents dropping their kids off. As I was walking in today I heard the front door open and I quickly slid my Glass down off my head and slung it around my neck. A woman passed me by and I gave her a polite smile. As I got inside the building I moved the Glass back up to my head but I realised the reason I took it off was because I didn’t want to be rude.

I was not embarrassed or worried she would think I was a dork. I AM a dork! What I was worried about was being rude. I feel like walking around with a camera pointed at people even if it’s not recording is just not polite. It’s a very strange feeling that I’m only just now trying to get my head around. I think the technology is incredibly cool but I wonder if socially we are ready for Glass. I’m starting to think the Google Glass Explorer program might be less about testing hardware, and more about testing people.

-Gabe out

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