A few weeks ago, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) began the limited, invitation-only, release of its Google Glass smartglasses device. A select few app developers and general consumers, known as ‘Explorers,’, were given the ability to test the Explorer Edition, a quasi-prototype version of Google Glass. The reviews are now in. What do these Explorers have to say about Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s entry into the emerging space of wearable technology?
At $1,500 a piece for each pair of Explorer Edition smartglasses, you might expect Google Glass to have the latest and greatest in hardware and software. You would be mistaken, however, with Google Glass featuring tech found in 2011-era products. Much like Google’s smartphone and tablet products, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass runs Android OS. This version of Android, however, is the older Ice Cream Sandwich version originally released in October of 2011.
The hardware of Google Glass is even older, featuring a Texas Instruments Incorporated (NASDAQ:TXN) OMAP 4430 processor that was first made available in the first quarter of 2011. It is expected, however, that the final mass-market version to be released in 2014 will feature much more recent technology. For the moment though, the internals of Glass are a little dated by the quick to change technology standards of today.
Usability impressions of Google Glass are mostly positive; being described as a straight forward and intuitive device to operate. When the display is not active, a simple finger tap to the touch sensitive piece of Google Glass will activate the display unit (an upward tilt of the head will accomplish the same for 100% hands-free operation). After the display is active, interactions with Glass occur via voice commands.
Saying “OK Glass” will open a menu of possible options. The user can then command Glass to “Send a message to…,” “Record a video,” “Give directions to…” or a number of other commands. Although only a quasi-prototype device, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) appears to have already streamlined the operating side of Glass. This is quite encouraging for a product not officially slated to be released until next year.
The not-so good
Google Glass itself lacks any cellular connectivity of its own. Instead, Glass is a supplementary device having to rely on a user’s smartphone cellular connection for all of its internet connected functionality. This lack of a cellular connection is likely a limitation of current battery technology, as well as the obvious size and weight restrictions for a device that must rest comfortably on a user’s ears and nose (and by all indications, Google Glass is a comfortable device to wear).