Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Problems with Glass

Glass is buggy, it's just a fact. As a beta it's prone to it's mishaps and malfunctions, but it's starting to become more and more buggy as time with version XE12. A new update is long overdue and it has been announced that version XE14 will bring KitKat to the table with many improvements. But for now, I'll list to you major bugs.

1. The built-in speaker
The speaker in Glass is quiet. It's a bone conducting speaker that will vibrate through your skull to make you hear it. It doesn't work well. It's quiet and can't be used for listening to music or making a phone call. It is good for notifications though as it's quiet enough not to be distracting. But when making a phone call I have found that after about a minute into the call, the speaker almost dies. Going muffled and then distorted. It kinda sounds like you're going through a tunnel... or in a helicopter. The speaker on glass isn't anything to write home about and if you need to rely on the built in speaker for a phone call... I'm sorry. Google does offer a solution, a mono earbud that works wonders, but it does become a hassle to wear all the time. And oddly enough, the helicopter effect still happens with the earbud... so once again, must be a software thing.

2. Voice control / recognition
    Motorola has a patent that allows your phone to only answer to your voice. You can see that on the Moto X by saying "Okay Google Now..." So why isn't Google using this? Letting others activate your Glass can become quite annoying. It doesn't happen often, but now and again you'll find the occasional person that enjoys toying with Glass. Voice control isn't the biggest problem though, it's the voice recognition that's the true enemy here. I can't tell you how many times I've had to say, "okay glass make a call to... home... home... HOME." Sometimes it doesn't even get it. Contacts on Glass are so messed up that I can't control it at all. It takes your Google+ contacts and mixes it with your Google Contacts creating the biggest mess I've ever seen. I've frankly given up on trying to initiate a text message on Glass if someone doesn't text me first. I can't figure it out for my life. Also, I have repeat contacts in there because it's a Google+ contact and a phone contact! Glass doesn't understand... I DON'T LIKE GOOGLE+ and I'm thinking of removing it from Glass all together. Aside from the occasional misunderstandings, everything else works fine. You have to talk very clearly and you have to use diction for Glass to understand you perfectly. If this doesn't get fixed... Glass is useless.

3. Lack of Apps / Google+
 Lets face it... most of the general population has no idea what side-loading an application is. Side-loading is when you have to manually install the app onto Glass using terminals and commands and computer science type things. Currently, I've been trying a bunch of side-loaded apps like Layer Virtual Reality and a version of Google Skymaps. As for instant and easy apps, I have the ususal Facebook and Twitter and Youtube. Winkfeed is great, as is Google Play Music. But that's about it. I keep about 5 apps loaded on Glass. There's nothing intuitive enough to play with. But if you have any recommendations, let me know. Lack of apps will change in the future... hopefully.

Google+ is truly something that Google wants you to use. It'll backup all your photos to Google+ and create auto-awesome movies and pictures if you take enough of them. The problem is... nobody uses Google+ as a main form of social networking. It's hard to deal with and Glass really wants you to use it as it is Googles baby. If you're not a Google-centric user, Glass is almost pointless.

4. Notifications
   Glass is the ultimate form of notification without distraction. You can check a notification hands-free without having to look down at a watch or phone. But what happens when I hear my phone buzz in my pocket and Glass does nothing? I go into my phone and look. I would either find that someone favorited a tweet of mine or it's a friend request on Facebook. Glass doesn't get notifications like that currently, which is really strange to me. I understand wanting to have only the super important updates come forwarded to Glass, but shouldn't we be allowed to choose what we consider is important enough to have beamed onto our faces? Also, I've been having a problem lately when I get a text message and tilt my head to read it, it'll flash to the message for a second and then scroll over to a picture I took beforehand or a message from a different conversation with a different person.

And finally...

5. Is this really something we all can use?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how people will use Glass. I see news articles of doctors and journalists and police officers all using Glass in their professions to better operate at their jobs or make some tasks easier. I use Glass in the field of theater, developing an application to help in the process of hanging and plotting lights on stage. We all can find endless uses for Glass. I took Glass to a restaurant for the first time and found myself taking pictures with friends and family. Celebrating birthdays, capturing moments, and experiencing things in a new and fun ways though Glass. We can all use Glass. But there are a hand full of people that are totally opposed to Glass. Either they think it's weird or ugly or creepy. I let one of my friends wear Glass as she had discovered you can wink to take pictures... and as I received Glass back, I was welcomed by 20 new pictures. Glass has its quirks and I think it'll take a while to see past them. But for now, I still love Glass in concept... as long as those past problems get fixed.

Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, leave them down below!
If you have anything you'd like to know extensively about Glass, let me know and I'll try and write a post about it.

Thanks again for reading and keep checking back for new posts!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Is Glass Natural?

I've been thinking recently about the functionality of Glass in the sense of fashion. Fashion is all around us, if you choose to accept that statement. If you don't agree you can go back to watching TV in your sweatpants and finish off that tub of Ben & Jerry's in the fridge. If you think about it, glasses are a completely natural part of style. We have different styles that best suit your looks and can complement outfits accordingly. I know when I picked out my glasses frames I chose a pair that best resembled the glasses that the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who wears... Yes I just admitted that on the internet, I know. But my main point here is Glass a natural part of our lives? Glasses are completely normal for people with impaired or bad vision. I personally only use glasses when reading so wearing Glass every day, at first, was weird to me. Google recently released glasses frames that attach to Glass to allow people who need prescription glasses to use Glass for the very first time.

Glasses are completely natural. What's not natural is having a camera pointed at you or a screen floating in mid air. Not saying that it isn't cool, because it is, it's really cool. It's just not something that we have had our entire lives. It's new and it takes time to get used to. As someone who wears glass without glasses, I find glass to look strange. You do indeed look like something out of Star Trek. Glass as glasses could be different. They could make you look more normal. But personally Glass has become less appealing lately...

And it's all due to one thing.

Android Wear

On March 18th 2014, Google and Android released their all new Operating System for wearables dubbed Android Wear. With it, a slue of new horizons for wearable technology... meaning? Meaning the dawn of the modern smartwatch.

Why do I say modern smartwatch? It's modern because smartwatches have been tried before Google. Sony and Pebble both had smartwatches before Samsung marketed their Galaxy Gear like crazy. The trick was that Sony and Pebble didn't market their smartwatches to the masses. Sony had their first go at the watch with it's Liveview and then proceeded to it's Sony Smartwatch and Smartwatch 2. They ran versions of Android and I admit, I bought the first Sony Smartwatch. That was back in 2012. That's when nobody had ever heard of a smartwatch. I was the only person in my entire school to have one, mainly because Sony didn't advertise for it (or because I was a huge geek). I was on the edge of the latest technological trend... or so I thought, because back then I thought smartwatches would be all over the place within the next year. I was wrong. Once again, Brian was setting a hipster trend with the smartwatch. The Pebble smartwatch was to be the first one to work with an iPhone which was a game changer because nothing works nicely with an iPhone. Funded as a Kickstarter Project, the Pebble was to be an affordable watch that would do basic notifications, music control and fitness tracking. But it was not until early 2014 did Pebble really blossom with the addition of an Appstore. Then Samsung got into the smartwatch game with the Galaxy Gear but that was just a mess because it only worked with ONE phone at launch. Then only supported Samsung phones. Typical Samsung.

So... The modern smartwatch is?

The Moto 360.

Google has designed the operating system as we knew they would. We all knew it would be based around Google Now and would provide Google's famous search engine as the backbone. They teamed up with a bunch of OEMs to design their own smartwatches and Motorola took home the gold, silver, bronze, and even the medal for participation. (The "you tried" medal goes to the LG G Watch).

This is a blog about Glass, why are we talking about watches?
Because I wish Google Glass was a watch.
There. I said it.

As nice as Google Glass is, I think a watch is so much more natural. We have had watches for hundreds of years. They are a part of our lives. They are contextual in that they are so a part of human life that we don't even notice them. Glass is obvious and you see it. It covers up our vision and distracts us to no end. Watches are things we use to check time... and now to check relevant information in the quickest of glances. Am I fanboy-ing a bit?

I'm excited. More than anything. I believe this is the real future. Or at least for now, I think smartwatches are all we can handle for 2014. If Glass made a public release in 2014, I wouldn't buy it. (Yes, I know I already own it.) A watch is much more appealing than Glass, it's fact. I do love Glass, to no end I do, I want to see Glass become huge, but for the average consumer, a watch is more natural.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

2 Month Update

Well, it's easy to say that having Google Glass has changed my life. Which is weird considering it's just a piece of technology you wear on your face. But Glass has been able to change a lot of the daily activities I do. Starting with time, Glass has been my watch for the past 2 months and my phone never leaves my pocket anymore when I have to check the clock. Just a simple tap of the touch pad or a head tilt will display the clock and then I go back to my life. No phone to take out, no looking down. Especially when having a conversation before class, Glass will tell me when it's 10 minutes before class and that's when I know to end conversations.

Is it rude to use Glass during conversation?
Don't be a Glasshole, would be my answer. If you find yourself looking at Glass for more than 15 seconds, you're distracted from the world around you and Glass isn't fulfilling it's duty. Glass is supposed to get technology out of the way. Which is ironic because to get technology out of the way, we must wear it on our face.

People ask about Glass... a lot.
One time, this man came up to me and asked, "Can I ask you a question? Is it okay to ask you a question?"
Meanwhile, some people will just start conversations with you, already knowing what you're wearing.
I think that the social aspect of wearing Glass is the most fun, currently. As software become second nature, the one thing that you'll always be surprised about is peoples reactions. That's the most fun, informing the general public. Once you put on Glass you are no longer "normal." You're a Google Glass Explorer and that's exactly what you're doing, "exploring." Possibilities are endless with Glass, which is why when people ask "What can you do with Glass?" it's hard to give a simple answer. I captured a priceless moment in class recently that involved completing a lighting circuit with a hot dog. But if I said to someone, "I use Glass to record my professors using hot dogs to complete circuits...", people would think I'm crazy.

We all use Glass for different purposes. The most fun is when you get to use Glass in weird, fun ways. Completing math problems while measuring with a tape measure is a good example of fun... (well to me it is). I normally don't take pictures, but with Glass I find an excuse to take a picture whenever possible.

In the beginning, I was very hesitant with Glass. Driving, clothing stores and movie theaters raise red flags in my head. As Glass was very distracting in the beginning (mainly due to my overwhelming excitement of owning Google Glass) I wouldn't wear Glass while driving. I've tried it a couple times and have come to the conclusion it's not necessary while driving. You wouldn't use a phone while driving, you wouldn't text while driving either. So there's no excuse why you would need Glass while driving. "What about directions?" I don't recommend it. Yes, you can do it, but the interface isn't polished enough for you to use it effectively. Stick to the cell phone mount or the standalone GPS.
Clothing stores give me a weird feeling, especially Forever 21. The dressing rooms are just curtains. Which makes me feel awkward as all hell wearing a camera on my face.
And finally, movie theaters... where I recently read about a fellow Explorer pulled out of the theater by the FBI being accused of recording a movie.
Be smart about where you wear Glass.

But I'll end this on a positive note, Glass is absolutely fantastic. I've used Glass in so many ways that I think so many people can benefit from it. Will Glass' magic be ruined if or when they're released to the public? Maybe, I love being special, but I'm sure everyone will have fun with Glass as well. Glass isn't for everyone, but for those people that like to be out there and futuristic with their technology, by all means get Glass. I know this update wasn't very well structured, I apologize, I kinda ranted for a bit. There's so much to talk about. But I'll try to cover it all.

As always, ask me questions and comment so I know what you want me to cover next.
Until next time!