I went grocery shopping tonight and I thought I would take the Glass along. The responses were hilarious. Some people stared and didn't say anything to me. You know they were just trying to figure out what I was wearing on my face. Some flat out ask what they are. A few had a "Nerdgasm" and said, "OOOohhhh! Is that Google Glass?", which was followed by 20 questions. The best one was an older, very southern man. He said, "Them's about the most fancy corrective glassed I have ever seen. Yer eyes must be very bad to have that thick of a lens on that right eye". The people behind me snickered and I spent about 2 minutes explaining Google Glass to him. When I was finished, he said, "Y'all kids and yer technology. I can't even use the remote that came with my TV. I have seen it all now".
During the week I have had them, I have made some notes about my thoughts for the future of Glass. On a technological level, these things are pretty awesome. It's still weird for me to see a screen in the distance. I still fumble with the commands a bit. But I think that the final product will be mind blowing. Below are my praises for Google Glass:
1. The biggest appeal for me is the ability to quickly take a photo or video. My kids are busy. They rarely slow down long enough for me to grab my phone, open the camera, and get it set to take a photo or video. Before Glass, I missed a lot of really cute moments that would come and go while I fumbled with my phone. With Glass, I tilt my to wake the screen and speak my command. Boom. You have the photo or video within about 4 seconds. With my phone, it took 8 seconds. (Yes, I timed it).
2. The picture and video quality are superb. I have an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy S4. I also have a Canon Rebel handheld camera. With Glass, I have found that the clarity of the photos is much better than I could have imagined. Take the photo below for example. This photo is original; no filters & no enhancement. The contrast of the blue sky and the green leaves on the trees is very cool. The quality is very high.
3. While the right side of Glass is obviously bigger, it is not very noticeable. You forget you're wearing them after a few minutes.
4. The bendability of the frames is awesome. My 2-year-old has already tested the durability of Glass a couple of times. While she gave me a near-heart attack, Glass took a beating and kept on ticking. This is important to us who have children. While kids are wonderful and the best thing about life, it's pretty much a law that Mom and Dad can never have anything nice. I've had 1 iPhone that needed to go potty and 2 iPhones that needed a bath. I am treating Glass like my 4th newborn. I'm very protective. I do let my kids put them on and walk around. It's interesting to play the video and see how they see the world.
5. Social interaction. People are curious, as I touched on above. It's a conversation piece. I find that I talk to a lot of people I normally wouldn't interact with when I go out with Glass. I have had nothing but positive feedback. I know some have had things shouted at them in a negative way. So far, I haven't experienced this. But, I haven't ventured out too much.
6. I have had good results from the voice commands. Glass seems to get it right the first time. I am not running into the problem of it getting my dictation wrong, which is a common problem with my Siri.
7. I like the ease of sharing a photo with my Google + circles and Facebook friends. Adding text is a breeze as long as you tap quickly enough while the photo is uploading. There's major room for improvement in this department, as I will highlight below.
8. The directions seem to be pretty amazing. From my home, I have played around with them. The display is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to use them while out, which you will learn about below.
Now, for the things I think need major improvement before Google Glass will appeal to the masses:
1. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 as the Android based phone needed to get the full benefit of Glass. The only problem is that I have had no luck in tethering since I left the Google appointment in New York. I stepped out onto the streets of NY after my appointment. I asked for directions to the nearest subway. I saw this:
I went back to Google where for 30 minutes they tried to get me tethered. We were on the phone with AT&T, who were pretty clueless when it came to Glass. In the end, the couple who were helping me at Google did get me connected in some way, after an almost heated debate amongst themselves about which was to go, but I lost that connection as soon as I left Google. I didn't go back because my time in NYC was limited and I didn't want to spend it all troubleshooting when it was clear we weren't going to be successful. I have since heard of others who are having problems connecting with the S4 but some are able to. Google Glass needs to have an independent data plan like the iPad does. It eliminated connectivity issues and it doesn't eat into your phone's data.
2. Since I have no tethering capabilities, I am unable to use directions. Bummer. Essentially, I have a wearable camera when I go out of my Wi-Fi range. I hear a fix is coming sometime this month for people having issues with the S4 tethering. In the meantime, I have downloaded 3rd party apps to connect, but still no luck.
3. There is a big need for some sort of organization. For now, you're bound to doing the finger swipe for a couple of minutes if you want to show someone a photo or video that was taken a while back. I would like to see a folder option on the main screen where you can separate your timeline by relevancy. Most times, I will just grab my phone to show someone a photo or video that was taken at an earlier date. This gets old, fast.
4. No iPhone support. Let's face it. A lot of people own iPhones. For now, all you can do is connect via Bluetooth, but this eliminates a few features of Glass, such as directions. While in NYC, I was told that an iPhone app is supposed to happen, for now, you're out of luck in unlocking the full experience of Glass unless you have an Android device.
5. The Google + integration is great. There's a problem with that for me. Most people I know are not on Google +, but rather on Facebook. I know that Google would love for Glass to move the masses from Facebook to +, but I don't think that will happen. You can share a photo on Facebook, but that's all you can do with Facebook from Glass. You can't even upload a video you have taken from Glass. However, you can upload a video to Google +. Google will need to make a Facebook app that puts your entire timeline and all the features that a Facebook app on your phone provides.
6. Speaking of the Facebook app, Google will need to make pretty much any app you can get on your smartphone available on the Glass. If we're wanting to use Glass in the same manner as a phone, it all has to be available from Glass. Why wear Glass if you have to grab your phone to do various things? The whole point is that Glass is a wearable computer. I have heard Glass may be getting its own app store sometime in the future. I am eagerly awaiting any word that this is a go.
7. Since I have no tethering capabilities, connecting to Wi-Fi when out is nothing but a pain. You have to find the hotspot, enter the password, generate a QR code, scan that, and connect. Open Wi-Fi is easy, but when you're visiting someone's home or a place that requires a password, you're in it for at least a minute before you're connected. If you have to connect via a website portal, you're out of luck all together.
8. Battery life needs a major improvement. I have found that after taking 8-10 minutes of video, your battery drains to the point that Glass needs to recharge. If you're out and about, this leaves you having to buy a backup battery to keep charging on the go. I've done it, and believe me, if you wear Glass while charging to a portable device, you look ridiculous. The charger's cord is thick and flat. If you think you stand out just by wearing Glass, try charging on the go. This really makes you choose what you're going to do with Glass. Want videos? Forget turn-by-turn directions. You need to save all your battery for videos. The occasional use of scrolling through your timeline and taking photos seems to be easier on the battery. You can get several hours of battery life by doing this.
9. While the design is super cool, I don't know how often I will be wearing them in public. They're so new and different. A lot of people have not heard the first thing about Glass, so that makes you stand out even more. I'm the type person who has never worn clothing to draw attention to myself. Glass does exactly that. I think Glass will be reserved for the occasional outing downtown or things like zoo trips.
10. Glass needs some sort of option to lift the unit up for those of us who don't have symmetrical ears. Obviously, my left ear sits slightly lower than my right. This leads to the screen being tilted just a bit. It's noticeable in photos and videos. Maybe an addition of removable pads to slide over the smaller side to keep them raised would help? They could come in the box just as the larger and smaller nose pads.
I could go on and on about the good and the bad. The above are my major praises and gripes I've formulated in the week I have had Glass. Do I think it's ready for its public debut? No. I knew going in that this was essentially a glorified prototype and the version of Glass I currently have will look like a dinosaur once the "real" version hits stores. In the end, I feel fortunate to be among the first guinea pigs. I do think that the development of Glass will grow at a fast pace. I think the potential is there. There's just so much to do before these will be a "must have" on the market. Sure, Google could open these to the public now, and they would make a big profit just because it's a new gadget and a different one at that. But, compared to the smartphone, it's lacking. I look forward to helping move Glass forward. It'll be neat once these are mainstream to say, "Hey, I was one of the first to have those".