OK, Glass, I'm Disappointed

In mid-December I trekked to the New York Googleplex Glass Annex (Glass-plex?) to pick up my Glass (glasses?). I have been experimenting with Glass for almost a month, while CES was bursting at the seams with wearables, insertables, integratables and even under-your-skin-ers.

Let’s be clear that Glass is an amazing technological accomplishment. The tiny screen delivers pretty cool HD quality, and the pictures and videos Glass records are of decent quality. But after that the whole experience falls flat.

I think the main problem is simply that there is very little utility or need for Glass. I cannot imagine one moment in the last month when I had wished that I had Glass on my nose. Directions? My car’s built-in system does that already for me. And if I am walking, Glass is useless, since I have an iPhone and Glass does not want to play with the Apple ecosystem (for now).

We obviously did a lot of cooking over the holidays, and there is a Glass recipe app. But if you don’t constantly interact with Glass, it shuts itself down to preserve its battery.



Google search? It seems that every search answer is a Wikipedia page, and though it is interesting to learn more about CNN or BBC as a company, I wanted their website, not their history. Email and social media updates are combined in a confusing stream of stuff that is awkward to interact with.

Just to ensure that I am not an old fuddy-duddy who is simply out of touch with what Glass could do for my digital life, I used the Christmas break to let my family try Glass. The test panel consisted of an assortment of family members ranging in age from 6 to  86. Each person “played” with Glass a little, but no one felt compelled to use it any longer than three to five minutes. The one exception was my 11-year-old nephew, who used it for an hour -- by which time he had exhausted the battery.

The main complaints I heard were:

-        Where are the games? (all the under-15-year-olds)

-        Where is YouTube? (my 12-year-old son,  an aspiring movie-maker)

-        Where are the social media sites? (Google Plus is obviously fully integrated, but where is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.?)

-        Why does it not answer like SIRI? (all the under-15-year-olds)

-        Oh crap, how do I go back again? (everybody)

-        No, that’s not what I wanted… (everybody)

At less than 10% of the price of Glass, I also own a FitBit (the old one that you stick in your pocket, or clip on your clothes). This little genie, coupled with the FitBit Aria scales, has done me more good than Glass has been able to deliver. I know my weight, I know if have been active, I know how many calories I have burned, etc.

Glass, on the other hand, has not affected life in any other way than creating novelty. And now that we have admired the technological marvel that it is, Google needs to show us why we need it in 2014.

I am sure there is a future for this technology. One day it will be embedded in your car’s front window (that self-driving car, of course). Doctors will use it on their rounds. Rack-jobbers will use it to manage shelves in the supermarket. You might use it when visiting exhibitions in museums.

Until Google does figure out its real utility, Glass is a very expensive gimmick that will get you plenty of attention but very limited benefit.

9 comments about "OK, Glass, I'm Disappointed".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Walter Graff from Bluesky Media, January 13, 2014 at 10:44 a.m.

    All I see every day is article after article saying that Google glasses are banned here and banned there. I have to think this is a marketing ploy by Google. I can't imagining EVER wanting a pair of these nor do I know anyone else who would. This thing was obsolete the day they introduced it. Next gimmick...

  2. Michael M from N/A, January 13, 2014 at 11:17 a.m.

    As a fellow Glass Explorer, I believe this article is myopic and seriously misguided. Let me count the ways:

    - You are incorrect about the inability of Glass to integrate into the iOS ecosystem. The MyGlass app for iOS has been out for a month+ now. It is not yet as robust as its Android counterpart, but it is fully functional and very useful, especially for driving directions and screencasts, which iOS users previously did not have access to.

    - Glass is not designed to be "always on." As a Glass Explorer (I'm assuming you're part of the program?), this should be one of the first things you noticed about the device. It beams information to you when you need it, theoretically replacing the need to reach into your pocket to glance at your cellphone for new information. Applications that do require always-on functionality do just that, but smart Glass owners know not to keep the screen on 100% of the time, to conserve battery power (same best practice as with a smartphone). Your interactions with Glass should have made you realize that in time, and with good design, it will be the ultimate push device, sending bits of information into your line of sight when you need it most. It's not intended to replace your smartphone screen, at least in its current incarnation.

    - Word games exist as official Glassware. There are no official "robust" games yet primarily b/c the Explorer program is geared towards developers and those who are comfortable alpha/beta testing new concepts. I also seriously doubt that a 15-year old will have $1500 to burn on the device. A simple search for unofficial Glassware will reveal nearly a dozen well-made games, ranging from retro 8-bit adaptations (Frogger) to social games (Battleship).

    - Youtube has an official Glassware app, and it works rather well. Also, if you Google voice search for a video, you're likely to recieve a Youtube link as one of the first results. You can view said video through Glass.

    - Twitter is fully integrated into media sharing functionality (take a picture, push it to Twitter with a voice annotation that serves as the tweet text). Facebook has an official Glassware app. It's a bit buggy, but it works.

    - I'm not sure why you're having difficulty navigating through the device, it's the first thing they teach you at Explorer training (swipe back to go back, swipe forward to progress through your timeline, swipe down to cancel, tap to go to the main menu from a dormant state).

    To compare Fitbit to Glass is akin to comparing my Macbook Pro to my smartphone. They do a few of the same things but they are designed to augment, and not replace, one another.

  3. Michael M from N/A, January 13, 2014 at 11:18 a.m.

    (Part 2) Glass is not yet a consumer device. It lacks polish in both hardware design (it looks too sci-fi and dorky) and UI (not yet intuitive), but anyone who has played with it enough should realize that it is a leading indicator of things to come, and it plants the creative seed for what kind of information layer will become available to consumers when the device and others like it enter the mainstream. Which is precisely why Google has contained distribution to a select number of consumers (mostly developers). Google IMHO is smart enough to realize that it is the developer community who will push Glass's furture, and find it's practical use in the real world through a lot of trial and error. To write Glass off at this early stage is extremely shortsighted.

    Will Glass ever become a mainstream consumer device? Maybe not. But for many of us, it's already opened up a world of possibilities, and window into what the future of computing will offer. Wearables, sensor-based applications, ubiquitous computing, the parsing of big data to make personal, every decisions... these are just on the horizon, and it would be silly for us to write these developments off as "marketing gimmicks."

  4. Michael M from N/A, January 13, 2014 at 11:24 a.m.

    Maarten, I encourage you to update your Glass to the newest version, download the iOS app, and play with some of the newer Glassware that is being introduced weekly at this point. I'm sure it will change at least some of your opinions on the device....

  5. Walter Graff from Bluesky Media, January 13, 2014 at 11:28 a.m.

    People hate wearing glasses as it is. You're a fan boy so it works for you. Most people do not want to wear the internet on their face and never will.

  6. Dan Ciccone from MEDIAFICIONADO, January 13, 2014 at 3:11 p.m.

    Glass is also only offered to a select few while it is still in beta. I understand the author's observations, but to be fair to Google, Glass is not yet available to the general public and I would expect quite a few advancements/changes before it is released.

  7. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), January 13, 2014 at 5:36 p.m.

    @Michael: I appreciate your very helpful suggestions. In the end, I think we are both saying the same thing: it is early days for Glass and the future will no doubt deliver better/real consumer value and utility. But as a user, at the moment Glass offers gimmick value for me and not a whole lot of real world/problem solving value.

    I specifically asked when I picked up Glass how to integrate with Apple and they told me nothing specific (other than turn on Bluetooth). And if - as you say - the app has been out for over a month, I wonder if Glass did not tell want to promote outside of the Android ecosystem? Or perhaps it was just an oversight. Regardless, I have now downloaded the iOs Glass app and will continue exploring.

  8. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), January 16, 2014 at 11:46 a.m.

    And then there is this proof point:

  9. Walter Graff from Bluesky Media, January 16, 2014 at 11:53 a.m.

    There you go. Even the counter-fitters aren't wasting their time. Remember when everyone had a bluetooth sticking out of their ear. They became annoying and everyone quit them as fast as ever. No one will even enter the glass realm as it's just a stupid idea. If it was so good it would have taken off by now. It hasn't and never will.

Next story loading loading..