Google Glass is becoming more available to the general public -- but is the wearable computer worth its steep price tag?
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Troy asks: “I missed the one-day sale on Google Glass; do you know when they will be available to the general public? What have you found them useful for?
Google Glass is essentially a development project that was initially released on an invitation-only basis to help develop use cases for the platform. Until this has been accomplished, the prospects of them being released to the general public are pretty low.
Unlike smartphones and tablets, which had a clear utility when they were released, Google Glass is a totally new technology interface that’s in search of its true value and purpose.
At the moment, it’s a smartphone on your face that can be used with or without touching it to send messages, make phone calls, take pictures and videos and a lot of other things that you routinely do on your smartphone.
While this novelty is pretty cool the first time you experience it, it’s not nearly enough to become the next iPhone or iPad — or to even justify its existence, for that matter.
In fact, in order to maximize its usage, you must tether it to your existing smartphone via Bluetooth, so it’s far from a wearable replacement for your phone.
Google purposely set a high cost — $1,500 — to become an ‘Explorer,’ because during this development stage they only wanted to attract serious software developers and users who were passionate about exploring its uses.
When — or if — it becomes a retail product, you can expect the price to come down.
When this will happen and what the lower price will be is anyone’s guess, although my guesses are “not any time soon” and “still expensive.”
Will Google Glass ever rival smartphones?
The real key to whether Glass will find mass appeal relies heavily on the apps, called Glassware, that are developed specifically for the device.
At the moment, the official Google Glassware page only lists 65 apps, but lots of others are being developed outside of Google’s ecosystem and can be downloaded and experimented with, at the user’s risk.
I’ve been working with Glass for about seven months, and I’ve found it to be useful in my personal and professional activities.
On the personal side, I’m an avid hiker and I love to take pictures and videos of the areas that I visit, so the form factor of Glass is really spectacular.
In the past, when I wanted to capture a vista or botanical specimen, I would have to stop, pull out my smartphone, unlock it, open the camera app, snap the image, view the image, lock down my phone, put it back where I was storing it and continue my hike.
With Glass, I can just tap on the side or raise my head up about 30 degrees to wake it up and say “OK, Glass, take a picture” or “record a video” — even in stride, if I want.
This change has allowed me to document so much more without having to start and stop every time I see something of interest.
As a frequent traveler to relatively unfamiliar cities, turn-by-turn walking directions and an app called Field Trip have been a great help. Field Trip taps into hyper-local experts to alert you to local history, insider finds, design, architecture and lots of other points of interest based on your location.
I think Glass will have a much wider use and value in the business community. Everything from augmented reality medical apps to real-time data during a meeting to hands-free QR or barcode readers are just the beginning.
Creating inexpensive training videos from the first-person perspective, for instance, has already seen some traction (including at our company), and various businesses, including law firms, are experimenting with documenting client interactions that can later be shared with others.
Google Glass is far from being a fully-baked product, and nowhere near ready for prime time, but if you really want to try becoming an Explorer, you can register here to be considered.