Getting the Invite
On July 30, while catching up on the day’s tech news, I saw a bunch of posts all mentioning that current Google Glass Explorers were receiving emails from the Glass team, allowing them to invite a friend. So I quickly asked my Glass Explorer-friends for an invite. I sent a message to my buddies Monica and Megan, who were both chosen to be Explorers during the #ifihadglass contest. Luckily, Monica had an invite, and filled out the survey recommending me to join the program. A couple of days later, I received an email from Glass Support welcoming me to join, with the following requirements:
- You must be a US resident
- You must complete your purchase within 14 days
- You must be able to pick up your Glass in either San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles within 30 days
I went through the appointment scheduling and purchase process and I was set to pick up Glass at Google SFO that Saturday. Though I live in LA and had the option to go to Google’s office in Venice, I had already planned to fly up to SF that weekend.
My appointment was scheduled for 10:30am. After grabbing some coffee, my girlfriend and I drove into the city to pick up Glass. We arrived about 15 minutes early, parked the car, and headed into the building. We were led to the 5th floor to a dedicated Glass “space.” After checking-in, we were greeted by a guide, offered drinks and snacks, and went to a lounge-type area with several kiosk-type stations made up of a mirror and 5 hanging Glass units (1 of each color). Here, I could try on all of the colors (Shale, Tangerine, Cotton, Sky, and Charcoal) and choose the one I wanted. I was debating between Shale and Charcoal, and after a few minutes, I went with Shale, my original selection, and was then led to one of several setup tables in the room.
These tables were extremely minimalist, supporting only 3 things: a Glass bag (with 2 pairs of lenses inside), a Chromebook Pixel, and a standing mirror, much like what you would use at an optometrist. Once the unit arrived, it was time for the unboxing. After pulling off the cover and slowly peeling off the glued-on sheet (cue the harmonious “AHHHHH” sound effect), I saw Glass sitting on top of a printed diagram, pointing out what each button on the device was meant to do. We then went through everything else in the box: charger & cable, extra nose pads, and some instructional reading material.
Next, we began to set up Glass. I powered it on and was helped adjusting and fitting it so that the titanium band would go across my brow, while the prism rested just above my line of sight. Then, I logged onto “MyGlass,” what eventually would become my dashboard for Glass. We went through the UI, paired the Glass to my iPhone via bluetooth, and set up wifi. Note: Android users have the leg-up here with the ability to use turn-by-turn directions, SMS, and screencasting via the dedicated MyGlass app on their phones. You’ll need to tether Glass to your phone via bluetooth in order to access data or you’ll be limited to wifi hotspots. Next, we covered how to operate and navigate Glass using the touchpad and voice commands. After answering my remaining questions, we wrapped up the session by walking out on the balcony overlooking the Embarcadero and the Bay Bridge to take a few photos and videos. Overall, the entire appointment took about an hour, but covered in-depth, all I would need to know to operate Glass.
Exploring With Glass
With Glass on and looking more like a cyborg than ever, we set out into the public to get lunch at the Ferry Building. The reactions were mostly stares and double takes after passing us, but my girlfriend noticed that a few people saying things like “Google Glass!” and “That’s Glass!” None of which I heard because I was too focused on weaving around the crowds lining the heavily-trafficked pier. After lunch, we headed back home and decided to go pedal boating out on the lagoon. The lady managing the boat rental immediately noticed Glass, even with the sunglasses attachment on, and asked to get a better understanding of Glass. Once we headed out into the water, I used Glass to take a few pictures and realized that I didn’t really notice it as an intrusive device. I could snap photos/videos with my voice, never having to reach into my pocket and grab my phone. I was able to effortlessly pedal and steer the boat while simultaneously documenting the experience.
It hasn’t been a full week yet, but since picking up Glass, I’ve used it to take photos/videos, send emails, take calls, tweet, check weather and flight details (via Google Now), and view headlines. Two days after getting Glass, I had my first OTA software update (XE8), which typically happens about once a month, introducing new features and functionality. It’s great to see the progress the Glass team is making, getting the product ready for market. For instance, the latest update introduced volume control and additional video player functionality (play, pause, scrubbing), features that would seem to be staple in any media device, but with rumors that they’re preparing to bring YouTube onto Glass, it makes much more sense. There is a shortage of apps, or “Glassware,” but that’s to be expected on such a new platform. That’s not to say no one is building apps, there certainly are, but there are only a select few apps you can activate from MyGlass. I’ve even gotten an invite to beta test an app for Everlapse. It’ll take a while for me and other Explorers to discover some new and disruptive use cases for Glass, but my initial prediction is that it can be a great utility.