So I’ve gotten a little carried away with the Glass-Android thing. My posts are as disorganized as my thoughts, so I thought I’d organize my posts a bit. Here is the set of posts for Android & Glass Development as of Feb 15th, 2014:
The first 2 parts are more of a Curious George couple of articles telling people what to expect from Glass. Everyone asks me what they are. I end up telling people “its just a pair of sunglasses” or “its a computer” and of course they are speechless and I walk away quickly before a long discussion ensues.
The next 2 parts are for developing web service apps for Glass. Glass can work with web based apps which run on a server and interact with Glass |OR| Glass can have native apps installed into it which it can run on.
The last 4 parts starting with First Android App and finishing with First Google Glass App, is a set of posts for learning how to create native apps for 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:
Mini Games (tennis etc.) actually work with your head movements
Allthecooks is an app for following and creating cooking recipes
Google Gmail for checking…mail
Google Hangouts for…hanging out 🙂
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:
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:
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.
This is version 0.4.2 but there is a new build, 0.4.3 (Canary) to date of this publication.
Its ok if you choose Eclipse, the differences are minimal in general usage terms.
Android SDK 15 & GDK
If you’re used to iOS, where the IDE (Xcode) already includes the SDK, you’re in for a treat. In this case its necessary to manually get the SDKs; both API 15 as well as GDK. To do this you use the Tools menu & select AVD Manager:
Now you must pick the right SDKs. I recommend getting these options:
To install you must then click on Install Packages and individually Accept each license. This will take a while for the SDKs to download.
Now you’re ready to start programming, sorta. You need the Android Debug Bridge, ADB. This allows us to connect to Android/Glass devices and debug directly on them. Again, if you’re coming in from an iOS environment you test on the iPhone Simulator and thats good enough to get started. However, on Android, BELIEVE me, you DO NOT want to test on the emulator. Both Eclipse and AS bring the AVD Manager, Android Virtual Device Manager which creates emulators in many configurations. Just launching these can sometimes waste up to 15 minutes of your precious time. This means that in a day of coding you can literally waste HOURS just waiting for the emulator to fire up.
Besides, as we mentioned, you can’t test Glass apps on anything but Glass devices. So this is necessary.
Fortunately if you installed Android Studio, adb is already in Android Studio.app/sdk/platform-tools. If you’re on a mac you will need to add this path as an environment variable. You might even need to create a symbolic link. This is due to the fact that Android Studio is contained in one of these peculiar .app folders. As you will see later, its hard to configure some neat development tools if you have files you need to get at, stored inside one of these .app packages. You can inspect the application package in Finder:
In order to add an environment variable we first need to edit our ~/.bash_profile from terminal by doing this:
this is assuming you installed Android Studio inside your Applications folder.
Now dab is accesible from any terminal. So test it by opening a terminal and doing this:
this should start the adb daemon and list all devices plugged into your USB ports which are in Debug Mode.
Finally, a cool dev tool is an app called Droid@Screen which can be used to display your Glass screen on your development computer screen. you can get the latest version of it here:
The most current version was 1.0.2 to date of this publication.
In order to configure Droid@Screen we need to tell it where adb is. The Android Studio.app folder structure we talked about is not recognized by most apps. This it is necessary to create a symbolic link to our dab file. We can do this by using this command: