Down the Google Glass Hole

Glass Vignette

My Google Glass arrived 18 days ago. I am wearing it (them?) now as I write down my early impressions. I paid an additional $85 for stereo earbuds, so the sound is okay but not as good as my iPhone earbuds, which snuggle in for a closer fit to my ear, with a left or right orientation.

I can tell what Herbie Hancock is playing now by raising my head to Glass’s wake angle of 23 degrees. You can set the angle lower or higher; 23 degrees seems to work okay for me. I don’t often raise my head that much if I’m not waking up the glass screen in the upper right of my vision.

I have the volume set at 27 percent, which is a little low. After a good night’s sleep, I’m cookin’ this morning and am in the mood for moving to a beat. Here is how I crank Herbie up to 35 percent volume: I tap the right side of Glass, slide my finger along the frame toward the back of my head, tap on Settings which causes a little cricket noise, then swoop my finger forward along the panel to the last of the Settings, which is Volume, where I tap again. This makes a slider appear, but you can’t see the numerical settings, just a bar graph. I overshoot the mark, but 44 percent volume is okay, so I tap to confirm the setting. A downward swipe of my right forefinger on the Glass frame exits me from Settings, back to Herbie’s album cover. The screen slips into sleep after a few moments. I raise my head 23 degrees to see that he’s now playing “Stitched Up” from the “Possibilities” album.

The reason Glass plays any music I want is that I already had a subscription to Google Music All Access, which costs $9.99 a month. Before Glass, I often listened to  Google music via my MacBook Air and Bose desktop speakers. It’s a lot more fun to raise my head, say “ok Glass,” then “listen to,” pause, and then imagine someone whose music I want to hear. Bach? James Taylor? Eminem? It’s like having a genie on my head, ready to grant my every musicological whim.

When I had my one-on-one Google video training hangout with a Glass Guide named Sammy on February 6, he said Google located the little screen at the upper right because that’s where we naturally look when trying to recall something. Sounds plausible. But what if you’re left-handed? Do you look to the upper left? Luckily I’m not, so it does feel natural to glance up and to the right for a blink of info.

The Glass default view displays the time–10:25 now–so I’ve taken to glancing up 23 degrees to see what time it is. In the old days I used to reach into my pocket while pressing the indented home button on my iPhone, so the screen would be lit up as soon as it emerged from my pants. Now when I’m out and about with my regular glasses, I sometimes catch myself looking up 23 degrees to see what time it is. This is like tapping the page of paper book to look up a word.

I am disappointed at how short a time the battery charge lasts on Glass. I charged it to 100 percent and depleted it for the first few days, to train the battery to last longer. Still, I seem to get only three or four hours of use before it’s time to plug Glass in for more juice. I’m going slow in my exploration, so a few hours a day of wearing them while listening to music and tinkering with the Bluetooth, WiFi, and share/send capabilities are just fine for now.

Wearing Glass in public can be an adventure. Google has helpfully posted tips on how not to be a “Glasshole,” and they make sense. “Don’t be creepy or rude (aka, a ‘Glasshole’)” Glass Explorers are advised. To wit:

“Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.”

Photo of dented bumper, taken with Google Glass

Photo of dented bumper, taken with Google Glass

Yesterday Darlene and her friend Tish were in a very minor fender bender on Speer Boulevard here in Denver. When Tish’s husband Tom got the call, I was wearing Glass, so I kept them on as we walked briskly to his car for the short drive to 11th and Speer. Darlene had stopped at a construction detour, as had the car behind her. But a third car didn’t stop in time, setting off a chain reaction of bumpers. As I was jotting down insurance information, the guy whose car had been in the middle stopped and asked in an appreciative tone, “Is that Google Glass?” I said yes. “Are you videoing this?” No, I answered. “How do you like them?” he asked, and I said they were fun to learn. Then we went back to sharing information about the accident.

Darlene was on my iPhone talking with our insurance company, so I used Glass to take a photo of our Ford Focus’s rear bumper, where there is a barely visible dent. The camera is 5 megapixels and takes decent photos, especially outdoors. Glass can also shoot video in 720 p. If you’re wondering if someone is videoing you with their Google Glass, just look at the little prism. If you don’t see a light, it means the video is not running.

I have not worn Glass while driving, and I don’t intend to. I haven’t even listened to the radio while driving our car for the past year, because I realized, with Darlene’s prompting, that I sometimes got distracted while fiddling with all the options for audio in our digitally advanced Ford Focus. The hapless chap who couldn’t stop in time before hitting a motionless car on Speer Boulevard is a good example of the perils of texting and other distractions. So no, I won’t be taking advantage of Directions with Glass. We’ve got them on the dashboard of the Focus, with iPhone as a backup.

Even if I did want to try Glass for directions, I wouldn’t be able to, because that feature, along with Texting, only works with an Android smartphone. I’m very tempted to buy a Moto X, which was recommended by one participant in the Glass Explorers Community Forum as a good choice for straying iPhone owners. I’ve also heard that the Glass app for iOS may be getting an update that enables texting, so I will try to wait for it.

We’re off now for brunch with Tom and Tish, so I will sign off. I have 30 percent battery left, enough to take some shots at The Delectable Egg on Market Street. Hope I won’t come off as a Glasshole!

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3 Responses to Down the Google Glass Hole

  1. David says:

    I have an iPhone 5s. I bought a Moto X on Black Friday to see what an Android phone is like and I am enjoying it. I use many Google services and find the Moto X integrates seamlessly with all of them. I also like the way the Moto X feels in my hand. The Moto X lacks the jewel like quality of the iPhone but is in many ways more practical. Given your interest in tech I think you owe it to yourself to try an Android phone.

    • len says:

      David, that’s great information. Are you now using both phones, or did the Moto X replace your iPhone 5S. Thanks for your comment.

  2. David says:

    I am using both phones but am using the Moto X more. I also prefer a larger phone. The Moto X isn’t much larger than the iPhone but is larger. It is much easier for me to type on the Moto X especially with the SwiftKey keyboard which is impressive.

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