Why I Returned Mine After Only A Month
In late November 2013, I was given an opportunity to purchase Google Glass. I was so excited that it took me less than 30 minutes to give Google my $1,600 and pick a color. All I could think about was how none of my tech friends (or anyone I know at all) had it and the value that it could add in PR for my website. How could I go wrong?
Arrival of Glass
It arrived in 2 days (1 was a holiday) after I opted out of going to NYC for a personalized fitting. At first it was everything I imagined. I felt like I was in the future or a sci-fi movie. I started to dream about the endless uses Glass seemed to have and all the cool video that I could record. After looking through the Glass explorer pages on Google, I was only more excited.
It didn’t take long to realize there are some downfalls to Glass:
1) Navigation. Navigating through the endless tiles that you can generate is painful (literally) as you try to sift through them using hand gestures and have to constantly look upwards at the tiny screen. There is no “clear all” feature.
2) Voice Commands. While voice commands can occasionally be convenient, it’s rarely appropriate to be talking to your Glass in public. Personally, I can’t stand people who are on their bluetooth devices or yelling into their phones in public, especially when they make awkward eye contact with you while not actually talking to you. Also, to text or email, you have to speak the content in order to send. I don’t see how else they could do this, but that isn’t something you want to do in public.
3) Pictures/Video. You can initiate these with either voice, touch, or the button located at the top of the device. However, the button is actually located on the temple of the glasses, which makes it very easy to press accidentally as you take them off. I ended up with a ton of useless pictures that were taken accidentally as I took the glasses off. The picture quality is equivalent to a standard smartphone.
4) Battery Life. The battery life was not too bad. It would last a few hours of constant use without having to recharge. I think it would be a stretch to have them on for an entire day (10-12 hours) without having to charge them. However, I found it reasonable for how new the device is.
5) Apps. For something that costs $1,500 + tax, you would think there would be some showcase (and useful) apps available. Wrong! There are very few apps, and much like apps for your phone, most of them have obnoxious push notifications
6) Android Connection. This was where I could see the potential for everyday use. When you receive notifications, you have the option to respond on Glass or pull out your phone for longer messages. Plus, the Glass app for Android shows what is on the Glass screen, which is a great introduction to Glass for those who haven’t used it yet.
7) Screen. The only issues with the screen I had are in lots of light or sunlight. The glare made the images so opaque that it was hard to make them out. Resolution and obstruction to my view were what I expected, which was about average. The screen will adjust toward or away from your face for better viewing. My eyes will get tired from reading long messages or watching videos on it.
8) Cost. This one is obvious… $1,500 is way too much for this product and I knew that going in. My estimated value after using them was $300. If I could get them for around that price then I would feel like it was money well spent.
If you wear glasses with prescription lenses, I would suggest trying them out for a few days first. While they do make prescription lenses for it, you are stuck with Glass for every situation as they do not fold up and the case is rather large.
There is also the legal side of using Glass. From the acceptable use while driving, to the using it in a movie theater, or even using it at a restaurant. It is clear that it will take some time for all of this to be figured out. You should be fine using it with reasonable caution and putting them away if asked.
The Bottom Line
What I didn’t realize when I purchased Glass was how impractical they are at this early stage. There is nothing in my digital life that I can only do with Glass. Besides, Glass is pretty controversial: there are plenty of (not unfounded) concerns about privacy. It feels strange to use some of its features such as voice command in public, yet I felt like I got even stranger looks when I used it without voice commands. People seem to assume that you are just taking photos and video all the time. Until the public understands and accepts hardware like Glass, you are going to stick out when you use it. It is the bluetooth device of this decade.
Only time will tell if it will be worth having Glass. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try it, but I am more happy that I got my money back. (To Google’s credit, they did refund my entire purchase including tax, and provided free return shipping.) For now, I will pass until it is more affordable and more people are developing for it.