Some initial thoughts about Google Glass

Upsides and downsides

I’ve had a tangerine-colored pair of Google Glass for five days now and thought I would share some initial impressions.

Downside: First, although I’m platform agnostic (psychologically speaking), I am set up in “Apple Land,” not “Google World.” It is a big change of pace to think of Google Contacts, Hangouts, and Google+ instead of iMessages and iChat. As a result a lot of functionality is unclear to me. If I take a picture and share it with a friend, I have no idea how they’re receiving it — via SMS? through a Hangout? Is it sending an e-mail? It’s a very strange feeling and I’m not convinced it works. I’ll text a friend later and ask, “Did you get that picture I sent you?” and most of the times they didn’t. Who knows where it went.

Upside: Having something on your face that can take pictures is really cool. Being able to quickly take photos with a wink, a button press, or a head spasm-plus-voice command is convenient. It’s nice to get a natural framing too, so I can show to others: “This is how something looks when I look at it.”

Here’s an example — a photo I took of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis while walking home from the bus stop yesterday. I was bundled up with hat and gloves and didn’t need to undo any of that to take a quick picture.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in the city’s Central West End neighborhood.

Downside: Battery life. I don’t understand it and it makes me nervous. It was really awful the first few days but seems to have mellowed out. Maybe it’s finished installing updates, Glassware, etc. and is happy just to coexist with me?

Upside: Having a Bluetooth headset. This is basic, but I’ve never made a phone call wirelessly before. Being able to dial someone in my pocket and speak to them with Google Glass is nice. Call quality (and reception) has varied, though. The same walk I photographed the Basilica I tried to make a call that dropped several times in a row. I don’t know much about Bluetooth but it seems like a relatively fragile medium.

The author as a “Glasstronaut.”

Mixed bag: The looks. Privately, I enjoy my bright orange Google Glass and they remind me of the future. When I go out into the wild world, though, I have no idea what everyone’s thinking. (Well, I know what they’re thinking!) A photo of the author as a Glasshole:

Downside: As an iPhone user I feel the functionality is quite limited. It costs an arm and a leg to tether (and it’s not something I can even do with my current mobile data plan — AT&T with unlimited data). Which means the thing sits inert on my face for most of the time, eventually bugging my ears.

Upside: There is something strangely natural and reassuring about a face-mounted display. This sounds ridiculous, but even after a few days it feels natural to have them on — almost comfortable. It’s a form factor that seems goofy to an outsider but maybe isn’t so strange after all. I guess as someone who has worn glasses since third grade, it’s not that out there.

Downside: Terrified about what would happen if I brought them into the bathroom by accident.