Google Glass (Explorer Version) - An Exciting Innovation And Potential Device (Part 4)

8/10/2013 9:22:54 AM


Messaging is an area of huge promise with Glass, but one that's a bit clumsy right now. When you receive an email or a text message, you will hear a chime. To view the message, just tilt your head up. You will only see the first few lines of the message, which is a bit unfortunate, but it's enough to know if you want to see more. If desired, it need two taps: one to bring up the menu, another to select "Read More." From there, it's another tap and a few swipes if you want to have the email read to you. You can also reply, reply to all, save or bookmark the message.

Messaging is an area of huge promise with Glass, but one that's a bit clumsy right now.

Messaging is an area of huge promise with Glass, but one that's a bit clumsy right now.

An ideal use-case for this is getting emails read to you while in the car and then replying back by voice. Unfortunately, because it takes 2 taps and 2 swipes just to get to the "Read Aloud" option, which is not something you should do while driving. Whether you're sitting on the train, it would be better to be able to read the entire email just by tilting your head up and down to scroll. The technology is in there, and hopefully Google will enable it eventually.

Also it’s worth noting that you can’t compose a new email. And, all answers must be done with voice ... and all will have the text "Sent through Glass" inserted on the bottom, whether you like it or not. Speech-to-text is acceptable, but not good enough for anything other than a quick response. For example, it struggled to distinguish between things like "was" and "wasn't", which can obviously cause some accidental consequences, and complicated place names are a bit hit-or-miss. (Glass understands "Schenectady" is quite good, but "Azerbaijan" was heard as "our body John").

If you speak slowly, clearly and avoid grammatical contractions, you have the opportunity to send the correct email. Should Glass hear you incorrectly, you have to cancel the whole message and start over. So let's keep those responses short.


Google allows you to search for things, and indeed you can do the same thing through Glass. But, with a low screen resolution you are limited in what you can get. Basically you get the "I'm feeling lucky" results for any queries, which may or may not be what you're looking for and, even if it is, may or may not contain any actual information you want.

Google allows you to search for things, and indeed you can do the same thing through Glass.

Google allows you to search for things, and indeed you can do the same thing through Glass.

For example, say "Google Engadget" and you will find a description of Engadget - but not the page itself or indeed any gadget news. But, say "Google Paul Allen", you will have the results of his Wikipedia. Glass will even read the first sentence for you: "According to Wikipedia, Paul Gardner Allen is an American investor...". Then, you can swipe through a few pages of information about him, including photos.

So, Google is erratically useful through Glass. Anything stick to Wikipedia are great, as well as questions about the operation and simple conversion, but anything more complicated can lead to disappointment.


Video calling from a smartphone or tablet, where you need to hold that device up in front of your face, is a far-from-compelling experience that we generally avoid for anything longer than a quick "hello". With a Glass, we actually found it quite fascinating. Now you can look and see the face of the person (or people) that you are talking to floating out in space.

Of course, they will not see your face, which can be good or bad depending on what you are looking at - and how you feel about your face. We had a lot of fun trying impromptu Hangouts while walking through busy crowds or riding a motorcycle, and it definitely makes for a great way to show someone something if they're not able to be there in person. It's easy to envision touring a museum with someone who's stuck at home. It's also easy to envision museums will not enjoy one such scenario.

However, its usefulness is heavily dependent on the quality of the connection. You will need to stabilize the LTE signal to have a hope of transmitting decent-quality video and audio without terrible lag. WiFi is obviously a better choice if available.


The New York Times app is the most notable to be released to the public so far. It is very limited, making updates to Glass about every hour, more frequently if there's breaking news. Tap on any news and Glass will read its title and first sentence for you. That's it. There is no "Want to know more?" prompt or any other way to see the whole story.

We are extremely excited to see what appears next, because the potential here is really huge. At this time, we will be pleased to post images directly to Twitter and Facebook.


The camera pointing out the front of Glass is a 5-megapixel unit capable of recording 720p video. Resulting photos range from very good to very poor, largely depending on the amount of light available. In a bright sunny day, Glass can take some very good pictures, bright colors, accuracy and good contrast. In normal light, shots are acceptable, but of course they fall into the "normal-cameraphone" quality, with muddy colors and the result is often slightly blurry. In low light conditions, shots may be a mess. No Ultrapixels here.

The camera pointing out the front of Glass is a 5-megapixel unit capable of recording 720p video

The camera pointing out the front of Glass is a 5-megapixel unit capable of recording 720p video

Another useful thing is that the camera waits a few seconds after you press the button to take the picture. In theory this could mean that you miss some incredibly fast-paced moment, but it gives you time to take your hands off the glass and stable before the shutter fires. Annoyingly, though, the way the shutter button pokes out of the top of the frame, you're more likely than not to take a picture when you set Glass down upside-down. We have dozens of upside-down photos clogging our storage.

After the picture is taken, it is presented to you in a few seconds, which is a useful feature because there is no viewfinder and the angle of the picture won't line up exactly with where you're looking. If Glass is not perfectly placed in your face, there's a good chance the picture will be at an angle, meaning you may need to cock your head one way or the other.

The same may be true for video recording, but here you have real-time view of what is being recorded. The quality is usually quite good, depends primarily on the amount of light available. You must be careful to maintain stability while walking, but in general we can record smooth video without too much trouble. The biggest problem?  Be sure not to nod when talking to someone.

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