I’m doing the 2-gig jig with Glass


After having my Google Glass replaced due to the fatal foil flaw, I was excited to learn that I had not just a new piece of hardware, but the new hardware. The latest version of Glass is shipping with 2 gigs of memory on board instead of the 1 gig found on the original second-generation units. (Google has yet to call the 2GB versions the “third generation,” but some Glass Explorers have dubbed it that.)

Tim the Toolman TaylorExplorers have gone through update after update on the software side as Google has tried to fix problems caused by moving Glass to the KitKat operating system. I believe they have now found the solution: give it more power!

As with any computing device, if you dump an operating system and more programs on it that will do more that doesn’t mean your computer can do more. KitKat clearly chews up most of the memory available on the 1GB Glass and any sort of multitasking with apps kills it.

Instead of constant crashes, freezes and random reboots while trying to multitask with 1GB, the new 2GB version running the latest software (XE 18.3) resulted in my recent post to Google+:

I did a short bike ride tonight while listening to some music on +Google Glass and a undertook a mission on Zombies, Run! (It’s still entertaining, even on a bike, because you still have to sprint periodically to stay ahead of the brain eaters!) Anyway, it performed very well and operated smoothly.

I listened to some music for about 10 minutes while getting ready. I even took a picture of a backyard visitor while listening to music and there was no lag in the picture being taken and no stuttering of the music being played.

Once on the bike, I listened to the first mission of Zombies, Run! for about 30 minutes or so, then listened to music again for about 10 minutes. (News and email alerts kept flowing in, too, but I didn’t open them.)

Upon arriving home, I sent and received a few text messages and made a four-minute phone call using Glass as my headset.

All of that chewed up 35% of my battery.

The new 2GB model running XE18.3 is what I always imagined Glass should be like.

There are also subtle design differences with the new unit, with some as mundane as where they put the design and build text, which is now located under the battery housing. The attachment screws are black instead of silver now, too.

Google Glass

The nose pads are different now, as well, with the ability to swivel more, much like you often see on regular eyeglass frames.

Google Glass nose pads

The “optics pod,” or what people who aren’t Google Glass Guides would call “the screen,” seems different, too, but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s almost like it’s brighter, and sometimes that means I’m getting more of a ghosting/glare effect on what I’m viewing than I did on the first unit.

The only unfortunate thing for me so far is that I cannot get the Notification Glance option to work on this new unit. It was super easy to calibrate on my old Glass, and I found it to be a far superior method to checking what the notification ding means compared to bobbing my head to do what some of my coworkers have dubbed, “Ari’s Glass twitch.”

I need to mess around with it some more, but if that’s the only negative thing about upgrading, I won’t complain.

I’ll just keep doing the 2-gig jig and multitasking on Glass like there’s no tomorrow.


Elaine Benes dancing


BETA can mean Bad Experiences Tactfully Alleviated

exploring-the-amazon-with-google-mapsAs a Google Glass Explorer, you’re not just a pioneer in wearable technology, you have to be a dedicated explorer, someone who is willing to put up with some discomfort as you reach for frontiers others may not visit for years to come.

This was never more clear than the recent kerfuffle that occurred when Google pushed out the first major software update in months and Explorers found themselves with units that ranged from wonky to bricked.

While some people complained it was too much to bear, most Explorers seemed to understand that Google Glass is indeed a beta product — from the hardware to the software to the accessories. Google and its Explorers like me are going to find flaws, problems, and difficulties that must be overcome before this device can go mainstream.

resourceWhen we recently upgraded from the XE 12 to XE 16 software, Google moved the operating system to the KitKat version of Android. This has a lot of potential for Glass and the apps, called Glassware, that developers are creating. In addition, the software update supposedly addresses some of the shortfalls Glass has experienced so far, especially battery life.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go very smoothly. In some cases, it resulted in constant reboots, features disappearing unexpectedly, increased battery drain, units overheating and shutting down and, in the most extreme circumstances, units becoming expensive paperweights.

Google, while at first a little slow on keeping Explorers informed on what was happening, learned its lesson quickly and tried to correct everything. We went from version 16 to 16.1 to 16.11 and finally 16.2 within about 10 days. Google fixed many things with each iteration, but other problems arose. And they aren’t done just yet. My device upgraded to 16.2 and began rebooting itself every few minutes for  a couple of hours. Then, suddenly, it stabilized and it has acted the best it has in weeks. I crossed my fingers and hoped that things are calming down now for a while…and that 16.21 isn’t released to fix problems other people are having and it somehow screws up my Glass instead.

In addition to learning quickly that they needed to talk to their Explorers instead of staying quiet, and then talk with their Explorers in a way that allowed them to listen better, Google made great public relations strides throughout this episode of Glass drama.

From what I’ve heard, they have been quickly replacing the Glass units that were bricked, offering Explorers the chance to change their color if interested, and snag an extra accessory as an apology for the mess and a thank you for being understanding.

Glass reply

I was frustrated at times and had to take a deep breath, reminding myself that I volunteered to pay money to enter a beta program. And I’m certain my problems weren’t as difficult as what many other Explorers were facing. But hopefully everyone’s Glass will be up and running smoothly soon and they can continue exploring something other than Google Plus posts seeking help and advice on how to save their Glass from self-destruction.

Could Google have handled the software rollout and patches better? At the beginning of the problem, yes. But it’s rare to see a company the size of Google adapt so quickly and bring its public relations activities up to speed so rapidly and effectively.

So while there’s no shame in Explorers having some level of frustration for what happened, it seems to me that Google proved “beta” can stand for “Bad Experiences Tactfully Alleviated.”

Google Glass to the Maxx

I’ve been an iPhone fan for several years now, having switched after my old R2D2-themed Android phone started misbehaving regularly. I’ve appreciated the simplicity of Apple’s operating systems and how their hardware and software “just works.” (That’s why I have, and will probably always have, Macs as my personal computers.)

MaxxBut then I got Glass. And now I have an Android phone — the Droid Maxx to be precise.

The MyGlass app is available for Android and iPhone, and recent updates to MyGlass made the Google Glass experience on an iPhone almost as good as with an Android phone. Almost good enough that it’s not worth switching from an iPhone to a Droid if it’s going to cost you a lot of money.

But as fate would have it, my daughter’s mobile phone is dying and we needed to figure out what to do for her next one. So I researched options and discovered a way to shift phones around on our account by adding a couple of new ones to the stable. Thanks to a couple of our family’s older phones being out of contract and eligible for an upgrade, plus Verizon Wireless’ current trade-in offer, three out of four of us are ending up with new phones and it will cost me very little cash to make it happen.

Since the opportunity presented itself, I decided I would research Android phones to see what’s been going on since that long time ago in a cellular galaxy far, far away when I carried R2D2 in my pocket. Things have changed dramatically and the operating system on my new phone is powerful, clean and fast. (The Maxx uses KitKat 4.4 if anyone is wondering.)

I still believe iOS is best for uninitiated techies or people who just want stuff to be simple and work with minimal fuss. But for those who like to customize their system and make it organized the way they want it, then Android is still the way to go. After showing my wife everything my new phone could do and how I had it set up, she said, “there’s just too much going on there” and reached for her iPhone like she would reach for the hand of a trusted friend. (For the record, she’s getting a nearly new iPhone 5S out of my phone-swapping scheme.)

myglassUnless and until Google makes the MyGlass app for the iPhone identical to the app on Android, though, I’m going to stick with taking Google Glass to the Maxx. Besides the Google universe being seamlessly integrated into the Droids instead of just laid on top like on the iPhones, there are three key things I’ve discovered so far that make the whole experience more powerful for Glass users:

  1. I can now send and receive text messages via Glass. I’ve used Hangouts and really liked the functionality, but in my job I receive a lot of text messages and being able to deal with them via Glass with verbal commands and replies is an awesome feature.
  2. Tethering is seamless on the Maxx, whereas I had to use the Personal Hotspot feature on my iPhone. It worked, but it seemed to drain the battery on my phone and Glass faster than the new setup does. Plus, it’s one more layer of connectivity to be wonky from time to time.
  3. Navigation just happens, fast and easy. With the iPhone, I had to be sure the MyGlass app was open before asking Glass for directions. And I mean open. It was never enough to have the app running on the iPhone. I often had to be sure the app was front and center and the phone wasn’t sleeping or the connection couldn’t be established to make the initial directions appear. After that, the app would occasionally forget that it was needed for turn-by-turn directions and Glass navigation became all about navigating the iPhone and not the road ahead.

There may be more features I discover as I spend more time with this new configuration, and I’ll update the blog with them if I find some. I’ve only had the phone a few days and I’m still adapting. One of the key things Motorola (“A Google Company” until last week) touts about the Maxx is its superb battery life. I must say that in the first full day of heavy use it performed wonderfully. I’ll have to see if that continues, but so far, so good.

Making the jump from operating system to operating system on a phone is a bit like traveling to the same planet in an alternate universe: everything is there, and you can see many similarities, but something is definitely awry.

It’s helpful that I’ve owned Android phones before and that I have a Kindle Fire HD, which has a bastardized Android operating system with similar operational features to my new phone. At some point, I’ll probably write a post on KitKat 4.4 vs. iOS 7, but that topic may have already over-saturated the blogging world and most people are diehard one way or the other, regardless of what I write.

My point is that making the leap from iPhone to Android may not be for everyone, even if they do use Glass. And, eventually, I think the MyGlass app for iPhone will improve.

But for now, I saw an opportunity and I seized it. And what’s that old latin saying? “Carpe Droidem,” or something.