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In this note, John Sumser details all of the functions and capabilities of the Google Glass device.
photo credit: Bill Grado flickr cc 2.0

In this note, I want to detail all of the functions and capabilities of the device. I’m going to leave out the current Evernote and Facebook integrations because they are quite limited. It should be clear that simply learning the functionality takes some doing. That’s the foundation for deeper exploration.

  • Navigation (Menus)
    You navigate the data in Glass by swiping the side of your temple. Backwards gets you Birthdays, weather, Calendar, Directions and Settings. Forward swipes take you from right now to the end of time in your Timeline. Tapping takes you down to the next level where swiping takes you through options. Swipe forward to go back in time is a little counter intuitive.
    Home is a screen with a Clock and “OK glass”. Saying “OK glass” takes you down to the next level where it’s possible to Take a Picture, Shoot a Video, Get Directions, Send a Text Message, Place a call, make a video call, take a note (voice dictation which is immediately sent to Evernote), use the compass, start a timer or start the stopwatch. An additional tap allows you to ask Google a question (the voice translation service is nearly flawless) or listen to a song and get Shazam-like results.
  • The Cards
    Each Pice of information on Glass is viewed on a card. (See Google Now for a clearer picture of this). The card resembles a small Powerpoint Slide. It has room for one header in large type and maybe 200 characters (although that would be hard to read). There are a number of formats. By far the most successful is the directions format. Google is getting really good at communicating the essence of a direction with simple visuals. The cards function is extremely important going forward. It’s where designers wrestle with the limits of the device for info delivery.
  • The Timeline
    The Timeline is the heart of the system. The overall logic is the same as any navigation that uses branched menus (like every desktop). It’s easy to grasp and intuitive to use. The big problem is that you can’t search the time line. All navigation is a linear adventure through time. Swipe forward to go back in time is a little counter intuitive.
  • The Glasses (Frames)
    What a headache. Recently, Google announced a partnership with a major lens and frame maker. This is a smart move. The process of getting frames filled with prescription lenses has been a comedy of errors. Mostly, Google isn’t a retail company and most certainly isn’t a glasses retailer. The other side of this issue is that Google Glass on a prescription frame is much less obtrusive that the lens free version. My guess is that a ton of people will prefer lenses to the lens-free version.
  • The On Off Button
    It’s buried under the device so I have to take my glasses off to turn them off. Boo!
  • The Camera Button
    Every time I pick them up. they start recording…particularly if they’ve been attached to the charger. Having a separate camera button seems like an odd design choice. I’d love to understand why they did it.
  • The Bone Conducting Speaker
    There is a bone-conducting speaker built into the device. In theory, only you can hear it. In reality, your head becomes a speaker that everyone around you has to listen to. I spend a lot of time with the speaker function on mute. The device did come with an earpiece that plugs into the micro usb port. It’s weird, little and very easy to lose.
  • The Crummy Microphone
    It works very well for voice transcription. It’s not useful for phone calls. This defeats one of the nicest features of the device – that you could keep the phone in your pocket. Currently, I have to have a separate set of headphones along if I want to use the phone
  • The Camera
    It takes forever to get used to the camera. Because the lens is behind the viewfinder, every single instinct you have about taking pictures is wrong. The photo images that show up on the time line are distorted and ugly. The images that end up being posted on Facebook are not. It will be interesting to see how they ‘fix’ the core camera problem. Lots of retail consumers will be unhappy without being able to articulate. It will just be that the ‘pictures are bad’. It would be nice of swiping made the photo zoom. Right now, it’s hard to control the photos you take.
  • The Calendar Function
    Beta. Today, it has me scheduled to fly to Denver. There is, in fact, a piece of Email with a Denver itinerary in it. But, like about 30% of my scheduled flights, this one was OBE (Overtaken By Events). I removed the flight from my actual calendar 3 weeks ago. Nobody in calendar land was able to tell anyone in Email land.
    Even so, the calendar does some amazing things. With a few taps, I go easily from the day to the directions to the meeting place. While it’s the early days, this cross functional data driven software integration will have some real legs. Oh, (and I know this is a beta thing) the software can’t tell the difference between a stop on a trip and a connecting city. I don’t need a Salt Lake City forecast when I’m going to only be in the airport for 45 minutes.
  • Refresh
    I’m in love with Refresh. The app (also available for the iPhone) looks at meeting participants and builds a dossier. So, if I am going to meet you tomorrow at 10AM, by 7 or so, there will be a package with your picture, social media mutterings and other relevant data. Great for someone like me who is congenitally unable to remember faces. The images and info about our meeting appear in my Timeline about 2 hours before the meeting.

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