The wearable augmented reality device has garnered more than its fair share of publicity but does Google Glass really live up to its hype and our expectations? Techsprung took a healthy cross section of reviews from some of tech’s front runners to find out if Glass is half empty or half full.
ABC News’s Joanna Stern made no secret of her disappointment with Google Glass after trialing them for one month. They came with a hefty price tag of $1,500 and “spent more time in their protective pouch” than on her face. Her review titled “One month with Google Glass: To return or not to Return”, weighed up the good – not having to reach for your camera phone on scenic holiday walks, and the bad – poor connectivity, which defeats the purpose of owning them. The Glasses are connected to the internet through your existing smartphone via blue tooth data transfer, which it seems has a poor connection that can’t be relied on and without access to the internet, Google Glass is rendered no more useful than a poor quality 5 megapixel camera.
Stern says of the device – “they don’t yet offer something unique” and wished they worked more like the virtual gateway of information that they were assumed to be, with real time information about meal calorie content, cab fares and train times overlaid in the augmented reality digital dream world she had hoped for. Until then they’re nothing more than a ‘conversation starter’, however she did keep them in the end,as she hopes the next generation Google Glass fixes will bring the product closer to what she had expected first time around.
Charles Arthur of the Guardian says he’d “expected a lot more from Google Glass” adding “they’re not going to replace looking at your smartphone any time soon.” While they’re pleasantly lightweight and flexible enough to fit your face comfortably there is the issue of looking “like Star Trek’s Borg.” This is probably going to be one of the major hurdles when the device is finally available to the general public, although I’m sure Google are banking on the fact that the target market for this piece of next generation hardware doesn’t care about that sort of stuff. At the moment there are only apps for Twitter, Facebook and the New York Times, however this should change quite quickly. The swipe motion needed to search is uncomplicated but also easy to get wrong – “Swipe the wrong way, however, and you’ve deleted a video without warning” and there is a privacy concern around taking videos and pictures as these can be done fairly surreptitiously while you look innocently around you.
Arthur concludes that hands free use of Google Maps is by far the most useful tool on the Google Glass and certain professionals (surgeons, drivers, mechanics) could benefit greatly but it doesn’t seem to make too much sense for the average person on the street just yet – “in a world where we’re already in a state of constant distraction, this seems like a step too far for no obvious return.”
Russell Holly of Geek.com said that ‘turn-by-turn navigation’ was the best reason for buying into Google Glass. The spoken directions make for easy hands free advice while driving and conveniently ‘float above the right eye’ so you can keep both eyes on the road. The same is true for notifications, schedules and whatever information you have inputted in your Google account. Of the $1,500 price tag for the limited edition version, Holly said – “If you’re expecting a finished product that will replace your smartphone, you should pass on the invitation and save your money for the consumer version.”
*Google Glass is expected to retail at approximately $500 (£330) once released to the public.