Google Glass (Explorer Version) - An Exciting Innovation And Potential Device (Part 3)

8/10/2013 9:22:50 AM

Voice command

If you're trying to manipulate the hands-free mode, your key is "Okay, Glass". This initial command must appear before any other command, but it is worth noting that Glass itself has to be activated first. So, you can’t just say, "Okay, Glass". You have to tilt your head up or tap one side first. Only then it is ready to comply with the new order.

What sort of commands? The most basic ones are "take a picture" or "record a video." Google is also a very convenient command, in which you can say "Google, what's 20 percent of 30" to calculate a tip at dinner, or "what year was Brave New World published?" If you ask a simple question like above, you can have results that you can read on Glass. If you ask a more detailed question, such as "Google please list Tom Cruise movies" you can only read the first few results.

If you're trying to manipulate the hands-free mode, your key is "Okay, Glass"

If you're trying to manipulate the hands-free mode, your key is "Okay, Glass"

Hangouts is of course an important part of Glass, and you can start by saying "start a hangout with" followed by the individual or Circle. Note that you can’t start a public Hangout, so make sure you build the Circles right now. You can also call any available contact designated under the name, assuming Glass is connected to the phone as a Bluetooth headset.

Glass knows the weather, too, defaulting to your current location, but you can also ask about other places. If you do this regularly, Google Now will include one permanent weather screen, located on the left. Navigation is also a key feature, with one command like "give directions to 125 State Street". Disappointingly, you can’t use commands such as "give directions home" and expect Glass to remember where your home is, as you can’t get directions to your contact. You'll have to talk address, or search by company name or category. For example, you can say "find me the closest pizza" and it will bring a card presents the results, which you can tap to call or get navigation directions.

There are some other miscellaneous orders, including translation ("say hello in Spanish"), photos search ("Google photos of Ferrari") and flight information ("what time does flight 123 depart from ALB?? "). In general, all of which are recognized and understood correctly, but the broader voice recognition definitely leaves a bit to be desired, as we'll discuss shortly.

Taking Photos and Videos

There are 2 ways to take photos with Glass: by voice (as described above) or by hitting the shutter button in the upper right corner of Glass. Click it once to take pictures, and even if you do voice or with buttons, there is a temporary delay. This is important, because it gives you time to take your finger off, helping to stabilize things.

The shutter button in the upper right corner of Glass

The shutter button in the upper right corner of Glass

With video, hold the record button for a moment. By default, Glass records 10-second video, but if you want longer, you can tap on the side twice and it will record until you run out of storage - or battery. When you have finished recording, you can swipe forward or backward through what you've seen. Videos play automatically in this way, but with a few tappings, you can share them on Google+ (the general public, or with the specific Circles) or delete them.

Google Glass’s sample photo

Google Glass’s sample photo

But unfortunately you can’t add any text. Anything shared has the hashtag "#throughglass," but nothing else to describe it. This does add a bit of mystery to your photo stream, but it would be better if you could optionally speak a caption. Photos are synchronized with Google+ accounts, so you can share them later at your leisure, but photos shared after the fact are rather less fun than those pushed online instantly.

However, it must be said that the pictures we shared often took minutes or sometimes even hours to get online. If the connection is not stable, you can see a significant delay. The larger video will take more time.

Google Now

Google Now is an increasingly powerful part of the Android operating system, makes recommendations based on where you are and what you do, and it integrates well with Glass. Weather is the easiest illustration, presented an icon representing the current weather, along with temperature and high/low temperatures.

Now also will provide guidance based on where you are going. Get directions from Penn Station to a location and, once you get there, you're likely to find Now suggesting how to get back to Penn. It will also provide a list of nearby restaurants at dinner time and while the proposal is not perfect, now regularly surprises with its almost prescient understanding of what you're up to.

Of course, each screen can be interacted with. Tap on the current weather to get forecast. Tap on a restaurant to call or get directions. Tap on a recommended destination to get navigation. All are very useful, but I wish we could manually configure a bit - for example, important locations and flights.


Positioning is one of the best features of Glass. You can speak an address, find a company or tap on a Google Now's recommendation and get detailed instructions here. If you have MyGlass application, it will also configure itself as capable of handling navigation, so you'll get the option of sending directions from your phone to Glass once you select a destination.

Directions are more or less the same as on an Android smartphone which is using Google Navigation. If you were hoping for a fully augmented reality experience, with a 3D arrow hovering in the distance over your next turn, unfortunately it is not practical for this situation.
 But of course it seems like something that could be built, because Google provides a certain degree of head tracking.

As Google Nav, spoken directions are sent into your ear as you drive. However, unlike Google Nav on a smartphone, you can’t disable the sound. Thankfully the voice used here is of the friendly, supportive type - not the seemingly angry, short-tempered types that come along with some GPS units. You can’t choose the navigation when using public transport. Now it is only for driving, walking or cycling.


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