I recently got selected to be a google glass explorer. I jumped on the opportunity and ordered my glass (version 2) and it arrived in a few days. I have a few ideas on software for the glass but for now I want to do a quick overview of my initial impressions of the device and its software.
The device itself seems pretty well made. The titanium frames seem flexible but sturdy. I wear glasses every day wearing the Google glass feels very natural to me. I currently have to double up on my regular glasses and the google glasses until I get a pair of the new prescription frames for them witch is a bit cumbersome, but wearing just the google glass by itself feels natural to me.
The display is clear once you get it adjusted correctly, and I have no issues reading any of the displayed information. I do feel like there is a bit of eye strain if you are using these for a while. In my case this may be partly due to wearing them over regular glasses, and the display is slightly over my prescription glasses frame at the top. Still I feel like it’s only a strain if you are constantly looking at the glass display. I would not suggest trying to watch anything more than short video clips on google glass. But for quick glances up to see a message or information it is pretty comfortable.
The battery life may be a little bit of a concern. The first time I charged them I ran the battery down to about 35% after about 3 and a half hours of use. In all fairness I was using them constantly like a kid that just got a new toy, and had the screen active and on, downloading apps, making calls, etc. the entire time.
The built in vibration speaker is not loud enough to use for much. The new earpiece that comes with it is a necessity for phone calls and hearing content. I do find the earpiece very comfortable, and I have issues with most earbuds.
I’m looking forward to getting some prescription frames for them for use in the future. I will probably only be using them for development work for now.
The voice recognition works well. When the device goes to sleep you can activate it again by tipping your head up, which happens sort of naturally as you look upward in direction when you want to use it. It is responsive and fast in most cases when doing web searches and getting content. There is a touch panel on the side of the glasses for scrolling, zooming and navigating menus. With that being said I feel there are a few navigational things that can improve here (witch I will point out in a bit).
The OS itself works as a timeline. When you do a web search, use an app or take a picture, it creates a card on your timeline witch you can scroll through using the touch panel. The cards stay in the timeline and some have more actions you can do with them like sharing on messaging or facebook. They all stay in the timeline until you delete them. Some recognize voice commands and other require that you use the touchpad to interact with them.
The camera functions work for taking photos. You can trigger a photo with voice commands, with a wink of your eye, or by pressing a button on the frame. It takes the photos fairly fast, and then puts the photo up as a timeline card for you to interact with from there.
I see a few issues with the OS of the system that I think will need to be addressed.
1. Timeline management. Currently any event that you do with the device is saved in your timeline until you delete it. The events in the timeline just keep building if you are not constantly deleting them. There is no clear all button or command. In my opinion I would rather all items automatically delete after a certain amount of time unless I specify to keep them. Imagine as you use the internet all day at work you have to go through a process of a few clicks to delete every webpage, email, call, and message you get or they stay on your computer forever. I would rather specify witch items to keep open and have the rest close after 10 minutes or so.
2. Global voice commands. Once an application or timeline card is open and you are off the home screen voice commands are determined by weather or not the programmer put them in. There are not any global voice commands like “ok glass, go home” or “I’m done with this” or “cancel” that you can say in every app. This leaves you in most cases touching the side of your face to go back to the home screen. To make the process worse when glass goes to sleep on a timeline card it wakes up on the same timeline card. This may be good if you are viewing a recipe, but I find in most cases the next time you activate glass you want to start a new event and expect to be on the home screen when it wakes up, but you’re not and have to fumble around with the touch pad to get there.
3. Taking pictures. I said earlier taking photos was easy, and it is but there is still an issue. We want to take good photos. Because the camera is triggered by a voice command there is no framing the photo beforehand. So every photo you take is a wide angle shot that mimics exactly what you see. You cannot zoom in or see the capture frame beforehand. I find this leaves most of the photos I take less than desirable and I would want to edit them before sharing them. So the concept of take a photo and share it without using my hands doesn’t really work.
With that being said, the device is still in beta and Google just released a new development kit with the ability to add interactive timeline cards, and create android activities that use all supported android intents. In short that means the tools are now there to fix most of this, and I am sure it will be worked out by the launch.
As a member of the explorer program my goal is to create an innovative new software for the device. As a starter project to get my head around the sdk hopefully my next post about google glass will be announcing the release of my first piece of glassware. That will most likely be either a timeline manager, or a replacement for the built in camera functions.