When Google first announced that it was working on a device that works like a smartphone but instead of fiddling with it with your hands, you wear it on your head, a lot of people were skeptical. TechCrunch’s Chris Velazco called it “ambitious”. People saw it as useless. You have to realize that, back then, voice recognition, which is a very important component of Google Glass, was hazy at its best. It was not uncommon for you to say something and Google’s voice recognition technology hears another. Plus, people just could not get their heads wrapped around a device that they have to wear on their heads and over their eyes.
But as the first versions of Google Glass debuted, everybody was in awe. Here they were holding the device that they had first thought was mere science fiction. And it worked very well, too.
A year after the pioneer wearers got their Google Glasses, Google released its newest Google Glass Explorer Edition. And unlike what the company did when it first released the device to beta testers, there are now a lot more people getting invited to try Google Glass. What’s more, Google held a one-day enrollment for Google Glass on April 15, 2014. This meant the first few adults in the US who sign up and pay $1,500 will get the new Google Glass, instead of having to get on the wait list or waiting for your friends to invite you.
You can have the Glass shipped to you, but it is better if you go pick it up at the Google offices. This is because you will need to have the glass fitted to your head, have the nose pads adjusted and the titanium band shaped to the contours of your head.
The Glasses are quite big. You cannot safely put it in your pocket at 5.25 inches wide and 8 inches long. Good thing that it comes with a free case that you can use to store your Glass away in your bag. It comes in five different colors: charcoal (black), cotton (white), shale (gray), sky (blue) and tangerine (orange).
If you cannot put it in your pocket, you would appreciate that the whole thing has a rather slim form factor. Well, at least if you ignore the battery. The battery literally bulges out of your head and is too big not to notice behind your ear. Thankfully, however, the search giant has kept everything very light. Even with the bulky battery, it weighs less than 1.5 ounces or just around 40 grams.
Google says that wearing the Glasses needs a little getting used to and it might give you headaches during the first few days. But when you get used to it, you will be able to wear it comfortably.
As for physical buttons, there are some on the device itself, such as the power button that you press in order to access your apps or turn on your Glass, the camera button and the buttons on the touch pad. You also have a micro USB port that you can use for charging your Glass.
Using the Glass
If you are new to Google Glass, then you would appreciate that the people at the Google office will run you down on how to operate the glass, including pairing it with your smartphone, connecting to Wi-Fi and accessing apps. Aside from the power button, you can wake up your Glass by tilting your head 30 degrees when it goes blank.
The good news is that you can pair your Android-powered Google Glass with your iPhone, although the experience is not that smooth. Pairing with Android devices provide a much better experience. For one, the text messages that arrive on your iPhone will not show on your Glass, but it does show if you use an Android device. iPhone also has navigation limitations and it needs to have the MyGlass app running in order to do things with your Google Glass. Having the app run in the background is not enough, the app has to be active.
The logic behind using Google Glass is not to put smartphones out of business. On the contrary, it simply provides you with another screen for your smartphone. This way, you would not need to take your smartphone out of your pocket or bag to check for SMS messages. You could do that on Google Glass. You can just say “Okay Glass, take a picture” and it will. All you have to remember is to say “okay Glass” to command your Google Glass to execute an action for you. You can read an SMS message or respond to a text just by talking.
You can also ask it questions and it will relay the answer to you via the screen and a computerized voice that reads out whatever appears on your screen. Do not fret though because Google made sure that no one can hear it aside from you.
You can use the USB port to connect your Glass to the computer and download. This way, you can get rid of your content. You see, too much content can make the navigation a little buggy.
Google calls apps that are created specifically for Google Glass “Glassware.” Right now, there are only around 40 apps available for download, ten of which were created by the Internet giant.
One of the most impressive apps is Google Now. The Glassware reads your e-mail and figures out if you are going to travel soon. It would then give you relevant information about your trip, including the weather and the temperature at both your destination and departure cities. Other Glasswares made by Google include Gmail, Hangouts, Google Music, Compass, Stopwatch and Start Timer. There are games available too where you can use your Glass to play tennis or shoot clay targets.
Of course, Facebook, Twitter, Path, Google+, Evernote, news aggregators, weather alerts, sports and fitness apps and other third-party Glassware are also available. And as Google prepares to make its Google Glass software development kit available, we can expect more Glassware to launch soon.
Google Glass includes a 5-megapixel camera, giving you photos of up to 2528 pixels by 1856 pixels in resolution. In good lighting conditions, the camera can take awesome pictures.
You can voice command your Glass to take a picture. But you can also take a picture by blinking your right eye or by pressing the physical camera button on the Glass.
You can save your content on the internal flash drive, which is rated at 16 gigabytes, 12 of which are useable. You can have your Glass automatically upload your photos to its cloud storage service, and then delete them from your Glass when it is done. You no longer have to plug your glass into the computer via USB.
Note, however, that Google Glass does not allow you to zoom into or crop your photos. You also do not have an LED flash and low light conditions usually mean bad photos.
On the other hand, your Google Glass could easily take videos at resolutions of 720 pixels, or half HD quality. But videos here need to be recorded with good lighting conditions.
Google Glass 2 now also comes with a new set of accessories. There is now a mono ear bud that allows you to take calls with better quality than before. You also have sunglasses that clip onto your Google Glass, a micro fiber case, a micro USB connector cable and charger.
Google Glass uses a 570 mAh lithium polymer battery, and to be honest that does not really provide you with enough juice to use your Google Glass all day. With the Wi-Fi on, Bluetooth connected, taking a few pictures and recording some videos, you would be lucky if the battery lasts for three to five hours. This means that you should keep your micro USB cable with you all the time to charge your Glass when you need to, which should be around two to three times in a span of 12 hours.
Good news to those who use prescription eyeglasses, Google Glass now has prescription lenses for you to use. No need to crash into walls while trying out your Google Glass!
So is it worth the $1,500 price tag? Google Glass might sport a futuristic, great design and sleek form factor. It may do a good job of making your life easier and keeping your hands free. It may take photos and videos without you having to rummage through your bag or getting your smartphone out of your pockets. But overall, the Glass as it is now is not perfect! Photos need good lighting conditions to be great, but we all know that sometimes life happens at night, or indoors. There is also a very few apps that are currently available and battery life would not last you a day. The specs inside Google Glass is similar to smartphones that were introduced in 2011, so you are basically stepping a few years backward as far as the technology goes.
At $1,500, you could probably buy three or four smartphones that have better specs. Or get yourself a top of the line 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and still have around $200 change. You get the idea just how steeply priced Google Glass is. However, the good news is that we are expecting to see the prices drop when the hype dies down and the Glass goes for general release.
UPDATED FOR 2017
This review that was originally written in 2014 has been updated for 2017.
When tech giant Google announced that it would be launching a wearable camera as well as a head mounting computing display by the name of Google Glass, the entire world was fascinated by it. There is no doubt about the fact that it is quite a fascinating device, but realistically, is it really worth the exorbitant amount? Well, in some ways, it does work quite well.
People were skeptical about its usability before, and some went even as far as to say it was ‘ambitious’, however, this was a time when Google’s voice recognition, which is now an essential component of their devices, was still in testing stages. Everything cleared up when the debut versions of the glasses were released. Users were taken aback and quite in awe of the creation.
What seemed only possible in science fiction was now a reality and people could have it in their hands. Just a year after the pioneer Google Glass versions, the company released its latest edition called the Google Glass Explorer. Unlike the first time around, when only a few beta testers were allowed access to the glasses, now a lot more people were being invited onboard. Google even held an enrollment class in 2014, which allowed adults who paid $1500 to obtain the glasses without the hassle of waiting lists or invitation from friends.
Now, you can have the Google Glass shipped to you or even pick it up from the offices of Google. It is better if you opt for the latter as the glasses need to be fitted according to the size of the head, the nose pads need to be adjusted and the titanium band has to be shaped as per the contours of the head.
At 5.25 inches wide and 8 inches long, the glasses are quite large and cannot be stuffed away in the pocket. The free case that comes with it is quite handy for storing it on the go. You will rather appreciate its slim design and form, as it is quite lightweight despite the heavy looking batter which sticks out. It is actually so big that anybody can notice it tucked behind the ear. However, the tech giant has focused on keeping it light, as it weighs around 40 grams or less than 1.5 inches.
According to Google, wearing the glasses at first may cause discomfort. But once, you get used to them, you will like it around your head. There are a few physical buttons on the device, like power button which grants user access to the apps and even turns it on. There is the camera button along with touch pad buttons, and a micro USB port which can be used to charge the device.
Usability of the Glass
If you have just jumped on the Google Glass bandwagon, then you will appreciate the first lesson given by Google on its usability. Google offices will teach you how to operate the Google Glass, and even pair it with your smartphone, connect it to the Wi-Fi and access all the applications. Other than the power button, you can also switch on the Google Glass by tilting your head to an angle of 30 degrees after it goes blank. This automatically wakes the device up.
The good news for iPhone users is that they can pair the Google Glass, which is powered by Android, with their iOS supported devices. However, the experience may be slightly different than the actual Android smartphones, which enables a much smoother and enhanced experience. For instance, on the iPhone, the text messaged that you receive will not appear on Glass, but they are visible on Android phones. There are navigation limitations as well, that means that you will have to keep on MyGlass running if you want to access it fully.
The reason behind the creation of Google Glass is not to put the smartphones out of business. It’s quite the contrary. Glass provides its users with another screen for their smartphones. Once you have your Google Glass up and running, you do not even need to take your phone out to check emails or text messages. All you need is a command to your Glass, ‘Okay Glass, read this message’, or ‘Okay Glass, take this picture.’ Just remember to say, ‘Okay Glass’, before a command and you are good to go.
There can even be a question and answer session with your Glass, and only you get to hear the device’s answers.
If you want to download the data off your Glass, you can connect it via USB to the computer and get rid of all the content on the device.
Apps and Camera
There are a limited number of apps available on the Glassware, including Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Google+. An impressive app that you may find is Google Now, which reads your emails and assesses where you might be travelling next. Based on that, it gives you all the information about the possible trip.
Google Glass has a good camera that can take great pictures with optimal lightning conditions. The 5 MegaPixel camera enables pictures with resolution of 2528 pixels by 1856 pixels. As mentioned above, you can command your Glass to take a picture, but it can also be done by blinking the right eye or pressing the physical button for it.
The Bottom Line
The Glass comes with an array of accessories including a micro USB and charger. When it comes to battery life, this device has faced a little criticism. Its 570 mAh lithium polymer battery is not that long lasting and can drain faster with a few video recordings and picture capturing. There is an additional factor also put in, for people who use prescription glasses, the Google Glass now comes with prescription lenses as well.
Hence, it brings us to the question, is it really worth the $1500? The sleep design and futuristic approach may say so. However, it is not really the kind of device that will fit in with the average person. Photos need good lightning, and in essence it works just like a smartphone. Hence, some would say it is better to invest in a phone or the latest MacBook, rather than giving into the hype of Google Glass.