I recently was invited to take part in the Google Glass Explorer Program. For those of you who do not know what this is, it’s basically a beta testing program that Google has offered a small group of people to test out their wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Google Glass is essentially a pair of glasses that has a built in computer and display. Google Glass works in conjunction with your smartphone truly make phone and internet connectivity hands free. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a pair before my third child was born. That would have been awesome to use Google Glass during the birth of one of my children.
When Google Glass was first launched, I passed at the opportunity to purchase a it because I require prescription lenses in my glasses and there were no options available at the time. At the moment, I do not have prescription lenses, but I do have them on order from a optometrist in Pennsylvania who custom makes a prescription lens that adapts to Google Glass. There is a company that plans to make prescription lenses available to all sometime in January of 2014. A couple of days ago, I attempted to modify an older pair of my Rx glasses to fit in Google Glass, but I have always had minimal style frames, which do not have the stability to support the added weight of Google Glass.
Google Glass intrigues me because it gets my phone out of my hand. I often find myself holding my phone and looking down at it as I scroll through emails and anything else that I feel might need my attention. It takes my eyes off of the world and I know I am missing things. There have also been many times when I have wanted to take a picture of video of something and my phone or camera was not easily accessible. My reaction time is improving as I get more used to Google Glass and how fast it is to take a photo of something.
I currently wear glass about 50% of the time and my prescription glasses the other 50%. When I am driving or doing something that requires me to see distance, I need my glasses. I can place Google Glass over my glasses but it is not comfortable and I fear that they will fall off of my face and hit the ground. There is something cool about sharing in first person. When you take a picture with a camera you usually are holding the camera in a way that is not the same as you would be seeing it with your eye. As a Photographer, when I take a picture with a camera, I frame it up and try to make it look most appealing as a photo. When I use Glass, I am sharing from my perspective.
My life this last few weeks has not been very eventful as I have been home a lot doing as much as I can so my wife can rest. Emerson was delivered by cesarean, which of course has a longer recovery time. As much as I want to play with Glass, family is first.
Those of you who know anything about me know that I am mildly addicted to mobile technology. I mean I started a company that helps feed my addiction. Though I truly love Apple products, I know that there is a whole other world of innovation out there and I definitely moonlight in it. Since Google’s Android platform was launched, I have loved using it. Until recently, it has never been able to replace my iPhone but in 2013, it has. I currently use the Google Nexus 5 with Google Glass as my mobile tools of choice. I do have an iPhone 5S, which I purchased on launch day, but I am not very excited about what Apple is doing at the moment. I know that Apple will surprise us again next year, but not in 2013. Google has been doing some fun things with Android that I truly enjoy. Their current devices are beautiful and more useful to me than Apple’s current iPhone and iPad.
Google Glass however, is not perfect. Though I have enjoyed having it and the look other techies give me when they see it, it has came with many frustrations. My frustrations are inline with what others have shared, however I may be slightly more annoyed by them because I don’t have the time these days to deal with setbacks. I am always in production mode and when I’m not, I am at home with 3 kids. Life is busy, so I tend to get frustrated when things are not snappy.
- Constantly Disconnecting – Google Glass connects to your smartphone and uses it’s internet through a bluetooth connection. This often drops which requires you to setup your Google Glass again. This is not a long process but it is an annoying process to have to go through. You typically notice it right when you want to do something with Glass. Today, I was in the middle of a run using the Strava Run app for Glass and it disconnected out of nowhere and I had to stop running to reconnect it.
- Photo & Video Sharing Doesn’t Always Work – I don’t like to spend much time on tasks so when I take a photo or video that I want to share online, I want it to post fast. I have had about a 60% success rate with posting photos and a 20% success rate posting video. I am not sure if it is my phone or Glass that has the problem, but I would assume that Google Glass and the Google Nexus 5 would be able to communicate better than another manufacturer’s device.
- Battery Life – Smartphones these days can usually last a full day on a charge without the need to plugin. Google Glass however can not last that long on a charge. If you are using Glass to answer calls, respond to text messages, take the occasional photo and do the occasional Google search, you will run out of battery before the afternoon. For many, that is not an issue because they can take Glass off and charge it while they don’t need it. For people like me, who plan to put Rx lenses in Glass and wear glasses all day, I will have to have another pair of Rx glasses on me so I can wear them while Google Glass is on the charger. I don’t plan to run the charging cable to my head so I can continue to wear Glass while the battery restores.
- The Timeline – Google Glass presents updates to you on a Timeline. That timeline can get clogged over time as updates come in. If you connect a lot of Glassware apps, get a lot of text messages and calls, it will become a little overwhelming to find older notifications. I don’t believe that Google was intending for people to have tons of notifications in their Google Glass timeline but it can get a little overwhelming. You can delete items out of the timeline, but it takes more time than it should to delete something and then do something else.
Though there are other things about Glass that fall short from my expectations I have to keep reminding myself that this is technically an Alpha product and an invention none-the-less. Google Glass is something that has only existed in science fiction movies and now I wear it on my face.
The best feature of Google Glass is being able to take photos from your own perspective. There is no zoom, so you are limited to what you are looking at. There is something freeing about that, especially as a photographer. I am typically worried about crop, exposure, angles and a number of other things because of my professional background. With Glass, I can just share what I see. I also like the ability to overlay your screen onto a photo. Google calls this a Vignette (See the Kettle Kickoff photo below).
Google Glass obviously works best with the Google+ social network, but with the Facebook and Twitter app, it becomes a pretty powerful sharing tool. Google has recently opened up the Glass API which means a lot of developers have more access to develop apps for Google Glass. It will be cool to see what people come up with.
I feel like my Google Glass experience will become much more interesting after I get prescription lenses. At that point, I will be able to experience the world as I normally do through prescription lenses and Google Glass. I won’t have to either go semi-blind or wear Glass with my prescription glasses which is a bit too nerdy for me.
I will continue to share my experiences with Glass. If you want to head over to my Google+ page, you can see more that I have shared using Google Glass.