Through Glass: Feeling comfortable living in the future

Through Glass:

Feeling comfortable living in the future

Second in our occasional series about living with Google Glass


Andrew Martonik

'Are those the Google Glasses things?'

If you buy Google Glass , get ready to field that question. Every day. I'm not sure what's more surprising at this point — the number of people who can properly identify Google Glass, or the number of people who have no problem asking me to confirm their suspicion. Interestingly, a decent number of people I come across have said "How do you like Google Glass? I've seen a few people with those before."

Whether they're scared about breaking it or just shy enough to not inquire, few people have actually asked to try Glass on. In any case, the interaction always ends up being a positive one. Everyone asks a few simple questions about how it works, what I see and of course how much it costs — usually asked with a sense of intrigue and wonder that you just don't see from "normal" people around consumer electronics today.

And for every person who has the courage to ask about my fancy headgear, another 20 have given me an interesting look as I walk down the street here in Seattle, sit at a restaurant or order my caramel mocha at Starbucks. As my girlfriend and I walked through the Pike Place Market last weekend on a crowded afternoon, she turned to me after a while and said, "Do you realize that every single person we walk by has stared at Google Glass?" Well, no, I didn't think it was every person ...

After a couple weeks of walking around the city with Glass, understanding that I'm now "that guy," I can actually experience what it's like to live in the future.

At least at this point, the future is a bit of a mixed bag.

I'm doing my best to wear Glass any time I leave the house, and for me that involves a lot of walking and public transit in the city. My primary use of Glass at this point has boiled down to just a few key things. First up is effectively effortless picture and video capture. Look, tap, speak, capture — it's faster than anyone will be able to take out their phone for a picture, and the resulting images are great to boot. Two more taps or a voice command and the picture is posted on social media.

Next is directions. Beyond the inherent location service issues associated with being in a city with tall buildings and questionable cell service, Glass will get you where you need to go walking, and you won't run into people on the sidewalk while you do it. Transit directions, while useful, could use a little work. You can get a route overview and full directions, but Glass still assumes you have a general understanding of the metro system — step-by-step information including route numbers would be a good start. If I was in another city and had to get from A to B on public transit, the information provided in Google Maps on my phone would be drastically more helpful.

Unfortunately I'm finding notifications to be rather hit-or-miss. Whether it's out of necessity with battery life or not wanting to distract the user, you really don't get all of the notifications you want or need. Seeing Google+ comments, Twitter mentions, SMS and some Gmail messages is useful, but I use more than those to communicate and keep up with life throughout the day. (And for the uninitiated, new notifications on Glass don't actually turn on the display in front of your eye. You do get a sound, though.)

I don't see every email, I don't see Hangouts at all, I don't see Facebook Messenger or Foursquare. Much of this comes down to app support and settings for what apps are already there, hopefully fixed with the impending release of the GDK, but the notification system clearly has a long way to go. As someone who's used to having a Pebble notify me for anything I want, I feel like Glass is just sitting idle on my head when it should be feeding me information.

Nobody ever guaranteed that the future would be wholesale more convenient than the present, right?

The upcoming release of the GDK has me excited about the possibilities of Glass in the very near future. Just taking a look at the apps released along with a "sneak peak" of the development kit can do if developers have the proper tools. Google Music on Glass has piqued my interest as well, to say the least.

As for now, I'll be trying to get comfortable living in the future.


Andrew Martonik

"Forever tinkering with gadgets."

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Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.