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Ten days with Google Glass

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December 23, 2013

Gizmag shares some more thoughts about being part of the Google Glass Explorer program

Gizmag shares some more thoughts about being part of the Google Glass Explorer program

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Here at Gizmag, we're very interested in the present and future of wearable tech. So we thought it was fitting to sign up for the Google Glass Explorer program, to give you a better idea of what Sergey Brin and company have brewing up in Mountain View. Though we aren't quite ready to dish up a proper Google Glass review, we want to share some more thoughts about our first ten days with Glass.

My first few days with Google Glass were mostly about the self-consciousness of wearing it in public, along with some grandiose thoughts about a cyborg future for the human race. After another week or so, has anything changed?

Well, yes. As I suspected, the more I wear Glass, the less I give a damn about the stares and funny looks in public. It's becoming surprisingly easy and comfortable to wear it out and about. It helps that Glass' look is starting to grow on me. When you're uncertain about your own appearance, you're more likely to be hyper-sensitive about others' reactions. But once you're more comfortable in your skin (which apparently includes US$1,500 cyborg skin), it's easier to laugh off strangers' gawks, stares, and furrowed brows.

Google has probably made Glass about as fashionable as a 2013 face-computer can possibly b...

As others before me have pointed out, the biggest concern in the Explorer Edition of Glass is its battery life. I can usually eke a full day of use out of it, and that's really all I can ask from it at this point. But if I wear it from wake to sleep without charging during the day, it's usually cutting it really close, hovering somewhere around 15-20 percent (or less) remaining by day's end.

My typical use involves voice messaging, reading emails and Hangouts messages, snapping and sending quite a few pictures, asking Google the occasional question, and some fitness tracking with the Strava Run Glassware app (pictured below). If I did any of these things much more than the light to moderate amount that I do, though, I'm sure it would conk out an hour or two before bedtime. And the times I've used Glass for turn-by-turn driving navigation, it sucked the battery dry much faster than usual.

Fitness tracking waiting just above your field of vision is one of Glass' many handy featu...

Looking at Google Glass through the lens of being a beta product, I think the battery life issue is par for the course, and really not that big of a deal. Now, if the retail version of Glass launched without improved uptimes, that would be a different conversation ... but I imagine Google will add at least a couple hours to its battery life before it ships to the public.

One beef, that shouldn't be too surprising, is how much Glass coaxes you into using Google services for things that you wouldn't otherwise have to. For example, if I snap a picture and want to send it to my wife, I can either send it through Google Hangouts or I can share it with a Google+ circle that she's in. You could technically also use Facebook or Twitter, but I committed social media Seppuku long ago, and no longer bother with those virtual town squares. The point is, simple photo-sharing options like MMS and email attachments aren't possible on Glass right now. Maybe that's the world we're increasingly living in, but you'd think the maker of Gmail would make it more of a priority to let you to send a photo as an email attachment.

We're testing the Google Glass Explorer Edition 2.0

A recent update to Glass, that I almost missed, has already fixed my other big annoyance. Before, when using the "OK Glass, send a message to ..." voice command from the main menu, Glass would follow a preset hierarchy of contact methods. It prioritized Hangouts, then went to SMS, and if those weren't available, it used email. But now the MyGlass smartphone app lets you set the preferred contact method for each of your friends. Now you aren't forced to send chat messages to that work colleague or acquaintance that you only wanted to email.

Google Glass only has a 5-megapixel camera, but I think it takes very solid pictures. More importantly, I now take a ton of pictures everywhere I go because, well, Glass makes it ridiculously easy to do so. Google's December software update even lets you snap a pic by winking your right eye. The feature works most of the time for me, making it incredibly fast to go from looking at something to having captured it in digital form. Even though every smartphone I've used in the last year or two has a better camera than Glass does, I take more/better pics with Glass just because it makes it so damn quick and easy.

We find ourselves taking many more pictures when it's this easy

The big questions we're working towards here are a) whether it's worth joining the $1,500 Google Glass Explorer program now (provided you can snag an invitation), and b) if Google Glass is a product that can change the way we live our lives. These questions are going to keep popping up as we spend more time with Glass, but we do have a few thoughts on these fronts now.

As for joining the Explorer program, well, unless you're a hard-core early adopter with lots of money lying around, it's probably best to wait for Glass' retail release. Google has said that the shipping product will go for less than $1,500. Now we don't know whether we're talking $350 or $1,450, so that doesn't necessarily say much ... but I wouldn't be shocked if Google launched Glass with some pretty aggressive pricing. After all, this is the company that spearheaded the $35 Chromecast and the $350 Nexus 5. If a sub-$1,000 Google Glass is just a few months away, then you might kick yourself for throwing down so much money on the beta version.

As for the long-term future of Glass, I'm starting to think Google might be onto something here. The big challenge is still going to be getting non-geeks comfortable wearing computer gear on their faces. The geekier among us are probably going to be psyched about Glass no matter what, but Google doesn't want this to carry the social stigma of a pocket protector or thick glasses. A formula for widespread adoption that is not.

Glass features a touchpad on its right side

The more cool uses for Glass that developers come up with, though, the more incentive people will have to jump into that fray. Right now I see notifications, photography, messaging, fitness-tracking, navigation, and Google queries as its best features. Being able to do these things 100 percent hands-free, hovering above your field of vision, makes Glass a pretty damn useful and exciting product. It's close enough to being a revolutionary product that I can imagine a few more killer apps – and a few more hours of battery life – being enough to push it past that threshold.

We're going to have a lot more to say about Glass in the coming weeks, so be sure to keep checking back at Gizmag.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
15 Comments

This is a very well rounded article. And I think the problem for Glass (at least initially and the foreseeable future) is quite simply cost and social stigma.

Stephen Adams
23rd December, 2013 @ 10:18 pm PST

I am NOT interested enough in Glass to read a pre-review, a post-pre-review review, ANOTHER pre-review, then LATER read your review when it comes out.

This is just ridiculous. I did not read this article, and I probably won't read another, until you come out with a full review.

1 or 2 is plenty. 4 or 5 is BS.

Anne Ominous
23rd December, 2013 @ 10:40 pm PST

When Google Glass is available to buy at a more affordable price and has more apps to work with it I will most definitely be somewhere in the queue if not right at the front. I like living in the future.

David Allen Wizardgold
24th December, 2013 @ 05:12 am PST

google glass has gotten more free and paid for 'buzz' than segue.

for 'consumer' applications it will be an even bigger flop than segue.

the only way google glass will ever make money is by getting a military contract courtesty of tax payers. rest assured, google is already in discussions with the government and nsa for various 'applications'. the story that glass will one day be profitable as a retail or b2b application paid for by voluntary purchases has no legs.

rest assured , they will get tax payers to foot the bill for this investment.

zevulon
24th December, 2013 @ 07:49 am PST

If they can make it into something that looks more like real glasses that will go a long way. I really can't imagine them not doing that.

I see a future with live sports watching (at the arena, golf course, NASCAR track). Not to mention, STRAVA (if they come up with a cheap version, I'll be interested) - along with a pair that doubles as cycling glasses.

bobcdc
24th December, 2013 @ 08:22 am PST

It was a well written article, thank you for being so thorough. When I first heard about Google Glass, I was really excited, but now I'm not so sure. It doesn't do much, at least not as much as I had thought. I would like to see it replace the iPhone at least. Other than email, Google Glass has no communication ability and it is not able to connect to the net. As it is, I doubt it will be much more than a novelty and will peter out unless they do more with it.

Learner
24th December, 2013 @ 09:18 am PST

If Google finds out how to attach google glass to normal glasses it will be better.

exodous
24th December, 2013 @ 09:19 am PST

Down right the worst piece of tech ever created. This POS is obviously catering to the idiots who feel the need to frequent facebook and twitter on an hourly basis. Those who are so codependent on constant reassurance that they are important in some way to people they don't even know. These same mindless zombies who you see swerving down the highway with their cellphone clutched in their hand like some sort of life line. I am not surprised that a company as money hungry as google would come up with such a obnoxious product. Products like this are spawning a society of anti-intelligence. As we continue on this path (and we will) the future race of incompetence will transform the world into a global society of no talent ass clowns.

Chaz
24th December, 2013 @ 09:40 am PST

No idea why they can't just put lightly tinted sunglass lenses on it and mimick the thick temple on the other side. Stigma problem instantly solved.

Collectives are just belligerently stupid about the most basic infantile things.

machinephilosophy
24th December, 2013 @ 11:10 am PST

How does the glass connect to my smartphone?

Paul Anthony
24th December, 2013 @ 11:14 am PST

Very well written, balanced review and is appreciated. Agree that the stigma associated, at least currently, is the major concern. However, I am one who sees this or similar devices as inevitable and gaining very wide acceptance in coming years with continual reductions in price along with ever increasing applications. I gather, as an assumption, that the display does not interfere with normal line of sight, but is projected above.

coolfire
24th December, 2013 @ 11:15 am PST

@Stephen Adams: "And I think the problem for Glass (at least initially and the foreseeable future) is quite simply cost and social stigma."

And not getting arrested. I've read that there are already states moving to legislate to make wearing Google Glass or similar illegal while driving, so the "turn by turn" directional indications will be out.

They're probably right. When these displays become more common you will inevitably get idiots watching TV to follow the latest baseball scores or the trend in stock market prices, while at the wheel.

Wombat56
24th December, 2013 @ 05:05 pm PST

I believe that the potential scope of this technology is much broader than suggested in earlier Glass reviews or marketing videos. Email, maps and convenient photos ops have no interest for me personally and as such I would not invest in Glass if that was the only purpose. Where I believe Glass could potentially shine would be in real world applications. A simple example would be the convenience of a physician reading patient test results or reviewing diagnostic scans while examining or treating a patient. Another example could include studying schematics while repairing broken machinery. There are countless examples where Google Glass could be integrated into our daily lives. The potential for Google Glass to simplify and improve productivity is very high. Contrary to popular opinion, not everything in life has to do with social media or convenient photo ops. I am willing to bet that it will eventually be integrated into both our personal and professional lives, and society will come to depend on the Glass no less than smart phone today.

Doc Shaw
24th December, 2013 @ 08:26 pm PST

Have you grown weary of annoying everyone around you and looking like a moron at the same time by blabbing constantly on your bluetooth earpiece? Do you crave attention more than a co-dependent toddler? Are you a firm believer in the mantra consumption=happiness? Get Google Glass!!!! Now you will be able to annoy everyone around you while endlessly blabbing AND documenting your pathetic life via low-res photographs with the added benefit of a battery hanging off your face!!! Save your money; just make a sign that says "I am a giant attention whore" and strap that baby to your forehead. Better yet, send me your money and I will make a sign for you!!! I cant even imagine how many traffic accidents and deaths will be caused by morons using these devices. Natural selection I guess...

muskrat_stew
26th December, 2013 @ 07:35 am PST

The problem with this device as a consumer product is that, so far, there is no killer app. I don't see $1,500 value here if the only functionality it offers is a slightly-more-convenient way to send e-mails, take pictures and navigate via GPS. Those functions are already suitably handled by the smartphone in everyone's pocket.

They shouldn't have even started marketing this thing until a compelling reason to wear it exists.

Mandres
3rd January, 2014 @ 03:26 pm PST
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