Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hey Ms. Google!

I received +Google Glass on Friday from a developer and wanted to relay my initial experience using the wearable smart device. All in all it is super awesome, and the first night practically everyone that I encountered while downtown kept saying, "Hey Ms. Google!"

First thing we did to set up the device was link up my Google account and download the My Glass app onto my cell, which took about 15 minutes, and then I was free to start experimenting. I did not and still have not read any directions (for I'd rather ride the horse than read about doing so), so my learning experience has mostly comprised of tapping, swiping and a bit of cursing at my first "Him." I have since captured a plethora of pictures and videos, made a few blunders, and in addition to Gmail linked my +Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr , +YouTube, Hangouts, Google Now, +CNN, +The New York Times, +Wall Street Journal, +Mashable and Weather Alert. I will additionally be linking up +IFTTT. All of these, along with some other apps, all come with my new companion, Mr. Glass.

The first night I had not yet linked up any of the other apps, so I was merely experimenting with the basic UI and capabilities of the device - ie. photos and videos - and for that it was amazing for capturing moments that I would not have been able to or previously thought of catching. +Google Glass's design is so light that you hardly even notice after wearing it for 10 minutes, and the lens does not interfere with your vision. The screen itself is a bit small though and hard to see at times, and the ear piece is slightly irritating and hard to fit just right in your ear. It does have a microphone without the ear piece, but it is hard to hear without it and I'm not sure yet if the volume can be adjusted.

About 5 minutes after downloading the My Glass app and first putting it on I received a call and ran to grab my cell but consequently realized that I could not answer it from there and that Mr. Glass was making noise on the table where I had placed it. Initially I was a bit flustered for I wasn't sure how to answer, then couldn't hear without the ear piece and was alarmed that my cell was not working, but nonetheless figured it out within a few seconds. The first experiences on Glass are quite exciting - first calls, first text messages, first pics and videos, and first Tweets. It is very cool to have instant access to these vital functions of our daily lives.

Unlike many might assume, +Google Glass is not on the majority of the time, but can be instantly accessed by a simple tap of the band which puts you in prompt mode. Additionally, it is pretty easy to detect when it is on because you can see the reflection and light of the screen in the prism. From the prompt mode, one may take a picture, record a video, get directions, message, call, make a video call, or post an update. Though Facebook is also connected, when posting an update from the prompt screen it automatically goes straight to Twitter. Additionally, for some reason all of the photos and videos that I have taken thus far are not uploading into my Google account, so I am not sure what is going on there. In prompt mode you can also scroll through your stream of apps and recent activity. Glass displays in chronological order your text messages, pictures, videos and any updates brought to you by the various different apps that you've connected. You can either read the various updates from the news services or you can have Glass read them to you.

Obviously, since there is no keyboard all of your messages and status updates are done through voice command, for which there is no current editing, formatting or punctuation. This is one of the current considerably dangerous and undeveloped aspects of the UX, for when in the message or post update functions, you speak your message or post and it sends two seconds later without the ability to review, edit or even confirm that you would like to send it. Or if there is the ability to do so, I have not yet figured it out. While the voice detection is quite accurate and your friends and family will hopefully be aware and understanding of any odd messages and lack of punctuation, if posting to the world on Twitter this could lead to some serious problems. Additionally, while some in the presence of Glass might have precautions about privacy, the users are equally more exposed, for any message or post must be read out loud.

While everyone has either been oblivious or quite excited and curious about Glass, the most awkward experience I have currently had is that the first night I accidentally sent a photo via Hangouts to a friend of mine without even realizing it at the time. Luckily it wasn't anything too personal, wasn't sent to someone else, and luckily I didn't post it to Twitter or Facebook, because that could clearly present serious problems.

One interesting aspect of the UI is that I only seem capable of adding and sending media by text to contacts who have a Google+ account. I tried adding one of my girlfriends who is obviously in my cell, but the My Glass app does not recognize her name and won't allow me to add her as a contact. When clicking on media - pictures and videos - you are given three options: send, share and delete. The send function, as I previously mentioned, defaults to Hangouts, while the share function currently gives me the following options: Twitter, Facebook friends, Google+ circles, G+ public, G+ acquaintances, G+ family, G+ friends, G+ I Love Social Media, Facebook only me, Facebook public, G+ PR, and G+ following. And while hashtags might not be necessary for Google+ due to the fact that Google automatically generates them, while in Twitter not having the ability to format and @ or # something is quite irritating and one of the essential functions of Twitter.

Two of the most frustrating things though that I have encountered thus far in my Glass experience are that I cannot seem to figure out how to go back on the device and that the voice command feature does not always work they way I would like it to. The only way that I have been able to work around the go back function is to allow it to reset to the prompt by taking off the glasses or by leaving it alone for a few seconds. Otherwise, for example, I sometimes find myself stuck in the send, share or delete functions and cannot get back.

Another aspect that I don't really like is that the videos taken on Glass seem to currently be limited to only 10 seconds. I'm sure there's a way to reprogram and/or change this, but it isn't clear to me at the moment.

Before using Glass I thought that there would be a constant stream of info appearing in the prism. This isn't the case however. When you get a text message, or if there is a new update you will be notified with a little chime in your ear and you must tap on the Glass and swipe to access. Personally, I would like it to automatically just appear, but I am not sure how arrange that at the moment either.

Stay tuned for more updates on my #throughglass experience.

Happy 2014!

Sarah Slocum
Founder of I Love Social Media, Inc.