Okay ladies and gentlemen, this is your chance to become a . Understand that you are entering into a BETA program and that the consumer version very possibly could be out later this year.
That said, if you are a technology enthusiast, it doesn’t get much better than wearable tech. And in the wearable tech, it doesn’t get much better than .
Let me answer a few questions I get often.
Q1. Do you like it?
A1. OMG, YES! I have a bit of a history with HUD (heads up display) tech and have dreamed of the day when we would have something like . It has either fulfilled or has the promise to fulfill almost everything I would expect out of the technology at this point.
Q2. What can you do with it?
A2. There is so much information online about what people are doing with it that I am always finding new uses, but here are some of my favorites
- Photography and Video – I can’t even begin to tell you how fantastic it is to be able to take a photo and video hands free. I have just this weekend, without any effort or bumbling around with a handheld camera, documented a morning hike my younger son and I had this past weekend. Couple that with Google’s “Auto Awesome” feature and you can end up with some pretty cool results with almost no work. As an example, check out this “Auto Awesome” video made mostly from images from my Google Glass when I attended the 4 day Rolex 24 at Daytona this year:
- Messaging and Social Media – Sending and receiving text messages is a breeze once you get used to the fact that all you have to do is talk. It is almost like having a real conversation… okay, maybe not almost, but it is very handy. Social media is also super easy. I typically avoid Facebook, but regularly use Google Plus and Twitter from my #Glass. Path even has an app for #Glass.
- News and Sports – With apps like Thuuz Sports and Winkfeed I get great information directly to my #Glass with news I am interested in. This includes news from Car and Driver, AP Top Stories, The Onion, The Atlantic, NPR, Lifehacker and many more. I especially like the sports score updates I get from the SportsYapper App.
- GPS Maps and Directions – The “Pièce de résistance” in the opinion of many as to why you would use something like Google Glass. Google maps is considered to be one of, if not THE, best maps and directions software used en masse by the general public. And it fits Glass like a glove. It gives you fantastic turn by turn directions both visually as needed and audio as you go along. It works fantastically, and I love this feature.
- Music – With the Google Play Music app I am able to jam to my favorite tunes using the stereo headphones made for Glass. (Note: the stereo headphones are an extra cost item)
- Miscellany – There are many other smaller ways that Google Glass can fit in your life. I use it for taking notes directly into the Glass Evernote app, or track my exercise with apps like the #GlassExplorer favorite Lynxfit (I admit I haven’t don this yet, but soon, I promise), or even learn new things with another #GlassExplorer favorite, the Word of the Day app.
Q3. Does it work?
A3. In a word, yes! Listen, this is a beta product so it isn’t going to be perfect. When I hear criticisms of Google Glass I find myself agreeing with some of them. Many of them I don’t agree with, very often because it is obvious the person presenting the criticism either hasn’t tried Glass or if they have, didn’t use it long enough to get the full picture. But, to be fair to anyone wanting to buy Glass but is concerned about some of the negative press, let me list off a few things.
- Bone conduction speaker – I had high hopes for this bit of tech, and I still do. In theory it solves the big problem of getting rid of the need for headphones. In practice however, it is a bit more difficult. The bone conduction speaker on Glass works okay IF you move it to just the right part of your skull and apply a tiny bit of pressure. But left to its current position it really is difficult to hear clearly if there is any ambient noise. Don’t get me wrong, the problems with the bone conduction speaker are mainly with speech. With general notification dings it works pretty well. Now understand that I am so thankful that Google went this route. If I had to wear an earpiece all the time, it might just be a non-starter for me. I think as designs and updates to devices like Glass come along, this technology will be better and perfectly fitting each persons skull to get the best sound possible via a speaker of that type. I do use Glass as a phone device often if it is a quick conversation, but because the bone conduction speaker is still a bit weak I would say I don’t use it as often as I probably will in the future as this technology matures.
- Voice commands – The voice commands within Glass and even the apps I have downloaded have worked really well in most environments. That said, if you are at an event with a lot of noise, Glass does struggle to determine what exactly you are saying. Also, while you don’t have to make yourself sound foolish when you speak to Glass, it does highlight areas of your linguistic tendencies that maybe aren’t as clear as they could be.
- Vision Blocking – Glass does not block my vision in any functional way. Of course if I look up and to the right, I see glass instead of the wall above my head, but other than that I have no problems seeing the world in front of or around me. It does however take some getting used to. I would say I am about as used to having glass above my eye as I am going to get in its current form factor and it took me about 2 weeks or so to get comfortable with it right there. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t annoying or anything, it just took some getting used to. And to be totally honest, I will usually go one day each week where I take a break from it. But that is more of a disconnect from the world type of thing than a problem with Glass itself.
- Problems with software – As I have said, this is a BETA product, and as such can act a bit flaky at times. Speaking as software developer who has worked through many BETA product stages, I have to say I am impressed with how mature Glass as a whole is working. And I am equally stoked to learn just yesterday that Google is about to update us to Kit Kat for Glass later this week. Are you going to see some issues at this stage, yes, but in the opinion of many #GlassExplorers I have spoken to there are fewer problems than they expected and I readily agree.
One of the greatest things about Glass that is never talked about is that along with the device, you become a member of a truly fantastic community of like minded people. And the icing on the cake is that Google themselves treat their #GlassExplorers with respect and actually listen to what we are saying. A little proof of that can be seen at the recent meetup hosted by Keith Barrett many of us participated in to celebrate the second birthday of Google Glass. When Google caught wind of the celebration they took upon themselves to contact a local bakery and deliver to our celebration a bunch of custom made cupcakes with the Glass logo. Check out some of the photos from the event.
Listen, this is an amazing product and if you have read this far then you obviously have an interest in the technology. There is so much more than the items I have listed above, but I have already made this post too long. Before I joined the #GlassExplorer camp, I had a lot of questions about the product and if I should purchase it. When I finally got the opportunity to check out an actual physical Google Glass, I was sold immediately. I knew that this was a space I wanted to develop software for, and… it was just really freaking cool. It isn’t cheap, but if you are a hardcore technology evangelist, an über geek, or a software developer looking to move into a whole new world, then you might want to jump on this opportunity.
I don’t know how long this window to buy Glass will be, but I know there are a limited number of spaces so today is the day to #GetGoogleGlass. If you have any questions please feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Google Plus. You can also just search on #askanexplorer on either of those platforms as well if you have any questions at all most of the #GlassExplorer community is listening and can answer. Good luck, and GLASS ON!