The latest in our continuing series on living with Google Glass. Russell Holly writes for Geek.com, is a longtime Google Glass wearer, has used Android since before it was cool, and dreams of living in a TARDIS. No, really.
Google's giving us the chance to shape the future, for the (not-so) low, low price of $1,500
The smartphone, as we know it right now, is on borrowed time.
Take a look at the technology being researched right now, crossed with the future tech in modern-day science fiction. The future people like Tony Stark, Kiera Cameron or Douglas Quaid in their respective stories all live in worlds where the common smartphone is not enough. Researchers today are already into flexible displays, transparent monitors that act as windows or mirrors, and a never-ending sprint to make everything thinner, faster, and lighter. The plastic and glass in your hand right now is already old technology to the people sitting in labs dreaming up what is coming next.
The most exciting part of all of that is the lack of direction. The path to the modern smartphone was fairly well outlined. It’s almost organic, if you look back over the last 15 years. The next step isn’t quite so clear, so a lot of companies are guessing.
Google Glass is one of those guesses.
You can't blame folks for being wary of Google Glass. It's clunky, expensive, with limited use. But that's the point. You have to start somewhere.
Right now, Glass is a notification dumpster strapped to your face that requires a smartphone to do anything terribly interesting, but it’s not that hard to visualize the next step for the platform being a standalone replacement to the modern day smartphone.
Google is using Glass as a learning mechanism — and charging people an arm and a leg to help them define this technology. The last six months alone have seen such a dramatic change in the way Glass works and how the Explorers interact with the hardware that it might as well be a different piece of equipment at this point. The Glass team at Google is doing so much more than just releasing a product. They are trying to define a category and give it purpose, which is significantly more important. Google wants to be for wearables what Apple was for the smartphone. And even more exciting is that Google is doing it out in the open for everyone to see.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about Glass. I’m not thrilled to hear stories from developers about how controlling Google is being when it comes to software development. It’s a walled garden that makes iOS app publishing look downright one-click. Developers working on Glass right now are actively discouraged from profiting in a direct way, but they are still expected to walk whatever line Google sets. It is freakishly night-and-day compared to Android app publishing.
From Google’s perspective, where a poor user experience could quickly sour someone on Glass, it makes sense. This is hardware that you should never really need to take off, and in a perfect world never need to troubleshoot. It’s not Android, even though it runs Android. Even those of us who can’t help but tinker with our hardware can’t quickly deal with a glitch floating half an inch from our eyeballs. It’s supposed to “just work” because you can’t afford a force close or deal with a nagging in-app purchase when behind the wheel of a car or in the middle of nine things in the kitchen.
Information in front of your eyeball comes at a premium — and that requires tighter control, at first.
Glass has dramatically changed how I do a lot of things. Driving and working out are the two biggest things. You’ve read this on just about every other Through Glass post here on AC, but just to make sure it sinks in I’ll say it again; having GPS right in front of your eye is hands down (see what I did there) the best and safest experience I have ever had. I also love the headphones that you can buy separately. It’s significantly more comfortable than strapping your phone to your arm when working out, or even just wandering around town. I worried initially that the headphones would make me less social when in public, but in fact the opposite appears to be true. I don’t mind pulling them out to talk to someone because they are so easy to locate and put back in.
I don’t know whether or not Glass is really the next step after the smartphone. I know that it is one of several ideas out there right now, and I know that it is by far the most public expression of discovery that I have ever seen from a company before. We’re learning together, so that our future selves can benefit from what we know does and doesn’t work about the technology. I couldn’t be happier with my purchase, because it allows me to be a part of that. Here’s to the future, people, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
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