Hey, you sass that hoopy Bill Napier? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is.

One Month with Google Glass

So yeah, I promised updates on using Glass. And then things got busy. But I've now got some time to write, so here goes some updates after a full month of using it.

Overview

I've been forcing myself to try and wear it every day. I usually succeed about half the time, and almost all of that is during the week. I'm up to almost all day with it, but around 2 in the afternoon it has to come off for a bit. But then I can put it back on again when I come home and wear it almost all night. I'm really starting to not notice it.

But I have a hard time wearing it on the weekends. It's one thing to throw it on and wander around Mountain View, it's a whole different thing to take Joshua to Gymobree on a Saturday morning with it on. Glass has gotten so much bad press with the possibility of people being "pervy" with it, that I feel very self consicous about wearing to to a class that has about 30 2 year-olds in it. And if I don't put it on then, I usually don't bother with it for the rest of the day.

But I have worn it out to Target, Whole Foods, Starbucks, etc. I've even been stopped a couple of times by strangers asking me about it. This is all expected, I mean, I have a computer welded to my head! I'm surprised I haven't been stopped more. And I'm always very pleasent when people ask. I try to be an ambassador for the future and tell them what it is and what it does and answer their questions. Sometimes people even know what it is by name, but haven't ever seen it. But most of the time they have no idea (even in Silicon Valley).

Good Things

One of the first things you must setup is the BlueTooth connection to your phone. This is vital as this allows the MyGlass app on your phone to configure thing (like Wifi settings!) on Glass.

OK Glass, Call Margaret

In addition to a control channel, Glass uses your phone (via BT) for data when outside of Wifi coverage. But Glass also implements the BT Handset profile. So you can initiate calls from Glass with a simple "OK glass, Call Margaret". And sometimes it actually works. :)

I was totally surprised the first time I got a phone call while wearing Glass. My first thought was, "What is that noise?". And then Margaret's picture popped up in my vision, indicating that she was calling. A quick "OK Glass, Answer Phone" and I'm talking to her via the built in mic and the bone-phone on Glass. The bone-phone is OK if you're just doing a quick call, or as you try to quickly switch to handset, but I couldn't see taking a longer call with it. First, the volume is kinda quiet, and I'm usually in the noisy cafe when I get calls. And second, it just feels funny on your head.

SMS (or Messaging) via Glass is pretty nice. Especially since the messages are meant to be short, so you can easily word your response and send it out. Of course, this is leading to all new kinds of "auto-correct" issues, as Glass likes to swap homonyms or simiar sounding words.

Bad Things

Going back to my first post, there is still a lot of "feeling like a tool". It can't be helped. There's just no way to use voice control of any sort without feeling like everybody is staring at you because you're talking to your glasses. Not sure I'll ever get used to that.

I say "OK Glass" ALL THE TIME. It's get's kinda boring, especially since you're think "OK PEOPLE, LOOK AT ME USING GLASS" every time you say it. Plus it's different than the voice control for Google Now (OK Google), so I get mixed up quite a bit as well.

Some of the "default" apps are so simple as to be childish. I guess they really are "sample" apps, like the timer. I want timer that works like Google Now. "OK Glass, remind me in 45 minutes to check the laundry. Not the clunky interface provided in current builds.

Wish List

OK Glass, Turn on Flashlight

I wish Glass had a "flashlight" mode. This would be super handy when I'm trying to peer into the back of the cabinets in the garage. Or maybe trying to work on the car of something where I need the light to see, but also need both hands free. Of course, this also requires new Hardware, so not something I'll be seeing any time soon.

I want a better way to build Glass apps. I understand why they are built the way they are (Glass runs Android after all), but I think there could be a better way to build apps. Like maybe some hybrid HTML/Javascript/DOM thing, that could be packaged up into an APK. Or even something more like the classic "Hypercard" paradigm. I think you could whip up a lot of pretty simple (but effective!) apps with this method, and then fall back to the Java API when you're app get's big enough.

There is no way to simply push information cards to Glass (at least none that I could figure out). Like things that I want to refer to without having to pull out my phones. Like recipes, shopping lists, lullaby lyrics. It's almost like I'm asking for better Keep integration, but I would take it in almost any form! I think this would be a really useful tool in the aresnal.

Summary

So I've not written a lot about Glass (2 long blog posts). But I don't feel like I've even scratched the surface. There are a lot of features that I haven't had a chance to use yet (like the Strava integration, or turn-by-turn nav). And they push software updates every month that will bring out new features and fix issues. So I'll keep writing about Glass as the mood strikes me and keep you updated on what I find out.

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Bill Napier

Bill Napier

Technologist, Gadget Lover, Father. Doing full time work at Google and part time work on everything else.