Google Glass – Part 2 – Pros & Cons

Google Glass Pros & Cons by Marcio Valenzuela
Google Glass Pros & Cons

In the first review I covered basically what Glass is and what its not, what it can & can’t do.

Now on to usability!


  1. The biggest advantage in my opinion, is being able to interact with information without having to look down like a zombie.  Or more importantly, not just the fact that we all look like zombies throughout the day, constantly checking our phones.  Because of course some will argue we are “Glassholes” or look like morons wearing these glasses.  But if you’re a true techie, you don’t care how something looks, you care about what it can do.  Its very comfortable to be able to get my information instantly, without getting distracted from what Im doing.  This goes for driving, talking, playing soccer even typing at a computer.  Its another screen for you to get your 21st century informational fix and more importantly its one you don’t have to grab and point at your face.  This makes Glass, in my opinion, the best wearable device that comes close to Star Trek type gadgets.
  2. Even though Glass apps (both Glassware & native) are currently very limited, as developers we have access to THE Glass team.  This means we are able to really sway which way this thing is going.  There have been quite a few iterations and a lot of functionality has been added and improved on.  Some apps being worked on are:
    1. Aside from single camera shots and continuous video, there is an app for adding long-time picture taking to compromise between the heavy long videos and a possibly mis-taken single photo.
    2. Barcode scanners
    3. Medical reference material
    4. There is a ShopGlass which lets you create shopping lists and take with you at the supermarket
  3. The handsfree & voice concept is ideal.  There are many times where I have found myself incapable of doing something because I needed to hold my phone.  So you come up with ideas of holding it in your mouth or putting it on top of something you are carrying.  Freeing up your hands for other tasks is great!

Now on to the CONS:

  1. Again, IMHO, the biggest #FAIL is the small screen.  Its big enough, sure, but it limits what you can do or rather, how well you can do something.  The voice-command menu is the starting point.  OTB Glass comes with about 4 or 5 commands.  You tilt your head up & down to scroll through that menu.  After a few more apps are installed which have voice-command triggers, that starting point list gets kinda long.  This is where voice commands will have to become a much more important channel for communicating with Glass.  Typically we use about 20 apps on our mobile devices every day.  Within those apps we perform about 3 common tasks every day.  That alone is about 60 commands.  That would be a long list.  A visually scrollable list of commands is not going to cut it.  Extending the screen to the size of glass lenses is not going to work either.  The whole idea of Glass is that its THERE but its not in the way.  Otherwise it becomes a hazard.
  2. Battery as with any mobile device is an issue.  It lasts about a day on a  single charge.  But then again it depends on how much you use it.  Not only that but it comes with its own charger.  So now I have to carry around an iPad, iPhone, Mac & Glass plus at least 3 different chargers.  The typical techie carries around at least an phone and a tablet.  Adding a 3rd device is an issue, unless it fully replaces one of those.
  3. Culture.  This is an odd one but important to mention.  Glass is meant to be worn, not hung around your neck like sunglasses.  This means they are to be worn at all times (well except in the shower perhaps & while sleeping {}).  In some places there is this culture issue about respect.  I don’t know about you guys, but when I go into an office or even meet with someone outside, I take off my sunglasses at least while I say hello.  I certainly don’t eat with them at the dinner table.  So what would be considered cool and intriguing in a US-tech-rich scenario, would be plain rude in certain places.  So there may be some generational gap there until us old geezers die off and newer kids grow up without those traditional ways of thinking.

So what do I use it for?  Whats my typical day?

I wake up and unplug them.  Oh because while they charge and if they have internet connectivity, they upload your images and videos to your private google account.  I put them on as part of my getting dressed ritual.  They’re with me while I drive and I can check stocks, weather and scores while I drive.  I get notifications while its sleeping on my face and I can just gesture to see what email just came in.  I usually don’t have it read aloud but I could if I ask it to.  So in that respect, its cool to know that my informational fix is quenched by simply knowing the sender and subject of a recently received email.

I keep them on while in the office but take them off if someone walks into the office.  I keep them on for errands but take them off for lunch.  Then put them back on for the rest of the afternoon.  Usually have them for my kid’s soccer practice for snapping pics.  I take them to solar installations with me to get ideas for the app Im working on.  I usually program with it as well when I develop iOS apps to get ideas for a programming app.  Then when I get home I take them off just because I want to rest.  Unless I decide to try a cooking recipe.

So as you can see, Im not yet a fully fledged Glass Explorer.  But I think its just a matter of time.

Google Glass Review – Part 1- 什么

Developing apps for Google Glass by Marcio Valenzuela
Developing apps for Google Glass

I got my Glass a little late…but here is my review!

What they are?

You might think the answer is obvious, but its not.  Its a wearable computer but its not a full blown computer.  Does that make it less of a computer?  Not really, unless you consider ipads and iphones less than a computer because you can’t do ALL the things you can normally do on a full blown laptop.

What can you do with them?

Since we already mentioned you can’t do everything you can on a full blown computer, let’s talk about what we CAN DO!

Out of the box, Glass comes with a few commands such as those for taking pictures, recording video and a few others.  Out of these features, probably the coolest is taking pictures and videos handsfree.  This is very nice because holding the phone with a busy hand is a pain, not to mention keeping it pointed in the right direction the whole time.

Ok so we wouldn’t pay money to get a wearable camera right!?  So what else can we do?  Google Glass connects to the internet via a mobile device (for now) or through a wifi connection.  This way you can access the apps for Glass and ‘install’ them.  Install is a relative words nowadays because much the same way iOS and Android and Computer based apps are now native & web based, so are Glass apps.  As a matter of fact the first Glass apps were all web based, called Glassware!  They were web services you accessed online and interacted with to do certain tasks.  This is what developers had access to in the beginning.  Now you can actually make native apps for Glass using their new GDK.  This lets you do some pretty neat things like play games and others.

There is so much, Ill just list what you can do with certain apps:

  1. Mini Games (tennis etc.) actually work with your head movements
  2. Allthecooks is an app for following and creating cooking recipes
  3. Google Gmail for checking…mail
  4. Google Hangouts for…hanging out 🙂
  5. Twitter
  6. Facebook
  7. Strava is a really neat biking stats app

How do they work?

You can interact with Glass using a finger taps or a combination of gestures & voice commands.  Your first interface with Glass is the “ok glass” menu which is your starting point in a linear timeline of sorts.  The “ok glass” menu looks like this:

Google Glass Menu Review by Marcio Valenzuela
Google Glass Menu Review

This is the main card.  It displays the time and the command to give to Glass.  Speaking “ok glass” gives you access to a voice-command launch menu.  That menu card looks like this:

Google Glass Menu Review by Marcio Valenzuela
Google Glass Menu Review

As you can see there are some options such as getting directions, sending messages, making calls or taking notes.  These are default commands installed.  As you install new apps, new commands are sometimes added to this menu.  Not all new apps add commands, some apps simply send you notifications or new cards only when an event takes place.  These usually come from those web based or Glassware apps we mentioned.  Such as when you get a call or email.

The rest of the time, your Glass has a timeline which looks like this:


As you can see from the image, Present & Future cards are to the left and Past cards are on the right.  You can swipe through this timeline back and forth.

This gives you an idea of how it works.  Now on to the neat things you can do.

Glassware & Native Apps

Some cool apps I consider useful are the Stock cards, weather cards and WorldLens.  The Stock & Weather cards are Glassware that run off of a concept I was unfamiliar with until a few weeks ago, called Google Now Cards.  These are cards you create yourself and only send you info when important information changes.  You can use them in the Google Now iOS app for example.

The WorldLens app is one that lets you point Glass at a text in a foreign language and it will translate it for you!

Allthecooks lets you look up a recipe while cooking and you can go through it step by step!

Other apps I know people are working on or are out there but I don’t use:

Driving robots using your head to gesture direction.

GolfSight is an app that helps you play golf, calculating distances and club selection.

Youtube for sharing your Glass videos.

Spellista is a sort of spelling game that you can play with other users.

Ill keep posting with new app ideas I hear from fellow programmers.  Its pretty exciting to be able to interact with the internet, hardware and information handsfree.  I am personally juggling ideas for Solar Installations and programming aides using Glass.

Who is Glass NOT for?

People who are clumsy!