Glassware: apps and taps and traps

The Google Glass website is the home base for explorers who use iPhones because the MyGlass app is only available for Android, at least for now. I am hoping that gets remedied at some point because the app sounds like it offers some nice features to make the most of Glass.

photoI have found four traps, so far, on using Glass with an iPhone:

  1. You need a personal wi-fi hotspot to tether Glass to your phone, which can mean an extra charge depending on your plan. I’m on Verizon Wireless and switched to the Share Everything Plan, so I have the same data allowance, but can now kick on personal hotspots on the family’s smartphones without an extra per-line charge for doing so. The switch made sense because I’m getting what I had, plus an added feature, for less than $2 per month more. On Android phones, apparently, you can tether without the added cost of a hotspot. (UPDATE: I’ve been told this is true only for some Android models.) The iPhone hotspot also has the limitation of not being able to run while you’re on a phone call — I’m not sure if that’s the same for tethered devices on Android phones, so if someone has experience with that, please chime in.

(UPDATE: I’ve been reminded this is a carrier issue and not a phone issue. I forgot about the AT&T ads about talking and surfing the web at the same time.)

  1. You cannot interact with SMS text messages directly on Glass without the MyGlass app. You can use Glass as a bluetooth headset and talk to Siri, but that’s not as smooth as having interactions straight through Glass. I discovered an IFTTT recipe just this morning for sending SMS notifications from the iPhone to Glass, but I haven’t had it triggered yet, so I’m not sure of its limitations. (I’ll give an update on this when I know more.)
  2. You cannot get turn-by-turn directions from Google on Glass because Apple has locked down its GPS access, which makes no sense to me but I’m not responsible for Apple’s bottom line other than as a frustrated customer paying their bills. (I’m sure Apple reads my blog and cares deeply about what I think. *delusion off*)
  3. You cannot share a screencast without the MyGlass app. I can see where being able to show people on your phone what you’re seeing through Glass would be a huge bonus. I received a number of questions at work yesterday from coworkers about Glass since it was my first day in the office with it. I’m going to have some show-and-tell time with them at a future date where everyone can try them on, but being able to do a mini presentation to the group yesterday would have been ideal.

(UPDATE: MyGlass is now available for iOS. See post here.)

I  have found some cool apps:

Glassware page copyOnce you’re on the Glass website, you can visit the Glassware page and download miscellaneous apps to your device. Google is insisting that all app developers offer their work for free for now, which I’m sure will change once Glass leaves the “Explorer” stage. Also, they can’t insert any advertising.

Some of the apps I installed include CNN, Facebook, Google Now, WordLens, Evernote, Timer, Stopwatch, Compass and Umano.

CNN shows you news alerts several times per day, the advantage to Glass is that you can either watch the video, read the article, or have the article read aloud to you. Umano is also a newscasting app, but professional voice people — how the app describes them — read news articles to you. So far, both have worked very well. 

Google Now provides update cards to you just like you’d see on your phone. As I said in an earlier post, if you’re not using Google Now on your iPhone or Android, go get it, NOW. This is fantastic on Glass, too.

Facebook lets you share a #throughglass picture to your public feed and Evernote lets you take a note and send it to your account. You can’t adjust the title or do much other jot a quick reminder, but it’s invaluable for that last-second “remember this!” moment. The note syncs to your default notebook. Evernote is supposedly working on the ability to send notes to Glass for access; imagine having your shopping list right in front your eye while in the store. I can’t wait for that.

Twitter lets you post images and receive notifications right on your Glass. Depending on how many notifications you get, that might get annoying, but I’m doing fine so far.

Wordlens is a translator app, while Timer, Stopwatch and Compass are quite self-explanatory.

I should note that I skipped a number of apps, some of which sound cool, primarily because they would need GPS. I hope Google and Apple realize that getting GPS connectivity between their two devices would be a huge benefit to their strained yet symbiotic relationship.

The skipped apps include recipes, golfing, biking, running and a few more like keeping up with the latest fashion news.

I have been tap, tap, tapping:

One of the things you have to get used to when wearing Glass is a lot of tapping and swiping. The touchpad temple can get a pretty good workout as you move through notifications, select them to reach action menus and then swiping and tapping your way through them. As I understand it, the timeline items disappear after 7 days, but for those of us who are a bit OCD about keeping notifications cleaned up, we aren’t about to let clutter sit around that long.

After a few days of use, I’m finding that I have a pretty good handle on when to tap and when to swipe, and how to swipe in just the right way — forward, backward, up and down — to make Glass do what I want. As with any touchpad, it doesn’t always register forward vs. up, for example, correctly every time, but that might be a user issue because I’m moving fast. I wonder if my caffeine intake at the moment is affecting my swiping ability? I’ll have to track that. 🙂

MagazineRacksAtGroceryStores-31177I did discover that there is a time and place for all that tapping and swiping on Glass, and standing in line at the grocery store isn’t one of them. Wearing Glass in public is a unique experience and I’ll cover that in an upcoming post. But while bored in line yesterday, I started swiping through my timeline and tapping away to clean up notifications and cards I didn’t need anymore. After about a minute of doing this, I got somewhat self-conscious because people either don’t know what Glass is and wonder if I’m a nut, or they do know what it is but are misinformed and think I’m using the taps to take stealth photos of them to post to (Not a real site!) So, I stopped and returned to the usual in-line task we all use to avoid making eye contact with others and having to engage in conversation: I stared at my phone and shuffled along to the register.

Coming next: Glass in public

5 comments on “Glassware: apps and taps and traps

  1. Ari – I believe the hotspot/phone call limitation is one of the Verizon/CDMA network. The same goes for any other data driven activity and simultaneous phone calls. GSM networks allow for both, so this limitation probably doesn’t exist on say, AT&T.


  2. Pingback: MyGlass for iOS! | Here Comes Later

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