Nov 29, 2013

Google Glass: Initial Impressions of Explorer Edition 2.0

I've had a chance to use Google Glass Explorer Edition 2.0 (Glass) for the last few days, and wanted to share my initial impressions of the technology. In general, Glass has a lot of potential because of the ease with which it delivers information, but there are some areas for improvement that Google needs to address before I think Glass will be widely adopted.

  1. The technology is compelling. There is a clear use-case for having access to information immediately, with one less degree of friction. I was able to find driving directions, make a phone call, and create and share multimedia with ease. There's definitely something to the speed with which Glass enabled me to complete these activities.
  2. Voice control works quite well (certainly better than Siri). Most of the time, I only had to say things once. On occasion, I had to repeat proper nouns that people struggle to pronounce anyways. One small improvement on Glass's voice control would be to change the "Ok Glass" voice control marker. I think users should be able to set their own, so that others aren't able to control their Glass.
  3. Glass provides seamless access to Google's corpus of information. I was able to get to information quickly and was able to consume it with ease. Specific types of information, including contacts and directions were exceptional in the way that they rolled into my normal daily activities. Display of web pages needs to improve, but as more companies create native Glass applications, web pages should become less relevant.
  1. On boarding / setup was more difficult than I anticipated. The process was not clear, and Google did not provide clear instructions with the Glass packaging. For Glass to be widely adopted, Google will need to make setup and on boarding seamless; they could probably take a lesson from Apple here. Glass's navigation is not intuitive, so new Glass users will need some sort of training. This is not to say Glass's navigation is bad though, it's just different. I had difficulty finding several controls, which initially left me underwhelmed because I thought Glass had less features than it did.
  2. The hardware needs to improve (it will). Sound quality during phone calls is fair at best, but is still problematic in loud areas. For Glass to be a viable threat to smart phones + headsets, it needs to compete with the core functions of these devices.
  3. I think there is a very real concern about the social stigma that comes with Glass. Both from the privacy and a "you look weird" perspective, Glass will have a large barrier to entry with many non - early adopters. To overcome this barrier, Google will need to come up with a way to both shift general social perceptions about using Glass in public and make the hardware less intrusive.
I'll write more about my experience with Glass but would love to hear your thoughts in the comments on this article.

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