22 6 / 2013

I tried today the GPS feature on Google Glass for the first time.

Actually, Google Glass does not have GPS. It relies on GPS of other GPS-enabled devices (e.g., like your Android phones). So, the first thing you’ll have to do is to “tether” your Glass to your phone via Bluetooth. Otherwise, the “Get Directions to…” menu item will be grayed out on the “OK, Glass” main menu.

When I first purchased my Google Glass a few weeks ago, the person who helped me with “Glass fitting” paired my Android phone and Glass via Bluetooth. But, somehow the pairing did not survive the past 30+ day lapse. :) So, here’s what I did.

First, make sure that your Glass is in a discoverable mode by going to the Settings card. (Settings is the leftmost one among the “pinned” cards on the left hand side of the “now” or home card.)

Second, search for pairable bluetooth devices from your smartphone. Depending on how you named your Glass on MyGlass app (e.g., “Harry’s Glass”), you’ll be able to see the Glass. Pair them. You’ll have to confirm from both your phone and Google Glass.

Third, once they’re paired, the Glass can use the phone’s Internet connection (e.g., through your mobile carrier). I don’t know if this is required, but Glass’s home/office WIFI connection will not be very useful if you go out on street, and hence it’s probably a good idea to use the phone’s Internet connection. On your phone, enable the “HotSpot” feature. You Glass can now connect to your phone’s hot spot WIFI when you are away from home/office. (To be honest, I never understood why both needed to be done. But, that was what I was told to do at the fitting session. Also, there are many confusing features, or at least confusing terminologies. For example, my phone has a notification stating “Connected To Glass”. What does that mean? Does that mean my Glass is tethered? Does that mean my Glass is using the phone’s hotpost? Or, does it mean something else? How do I then “disconnect” the Glass from my phone? Etc. etc.)

That’s it. Now you are ready to use GPS on your Glass. Make sure that the “Get Directions to…” menu item is enabled.

Google Glass is a very “impatient” device. When you use a voice control, or dictation, etc., you should be extremely quick. Whenever you take a pause, even for, like, half a second, the Glass thinks you are done. For example, when you send an email through voice, my Glass keeps sending messages whenever I take a quick break, thereby sending out partial messages again and again. Pretty annoying. (Nobody can dictate a reasonable length email in one breath. :))

The same holds true when you are getting directions. You have to read aloud the address in one breath. An address comprises many “components”: Street number, street name, city, and optionally, state and country, and apt/suite numbers, etc. ¬†Today, I tried the direction feature for the first time on my Glass. (I don’t use voice commands on my phones. My thoughts on this in later posts.) I kept taking a pause after the street name, and my Glass kept trying to get directions based on partial addresses. It was a bit frustrating at first. Finally, I figured it out, though.

The GPS feature was pretty useful, and the experience was a bit different from using GPS from my phone, in a subtle but important way. (I never used GPS devices (e.g., built in to the car dashboard) before the GPS enabled smartphones came along.)

First, the map/route feature does not seem as useful on Glass because of its smaller screen. On the other hand, the “turn by turn” direction feature feels pretty useful. You don’t have to hold your phone (or, strain your ears trying to listen to the read-aloud directions). Glass is always “in your head”. Google Glass uses BCH (bone conducting headphone) for audio. It does not use the conventional headphone/earphone or speaker. The turn-by-turn directions are read into your head (literally) while you are driving. Again, I’m still a bit confused about the on/off state of Glass, etc. But even when the Glass screen is off (and, when it is apparently in the non-active state), it reads the directions to you. As long as you wear Glass, it is always there. Always “on”, and operable hands-free. Who wouldn’t want Google Glass? ;) (The only “issue” I encountered today was the sound volume. While I was driving, I left the window open, and the Glass sound was rather hard to hear in the loud ambient noise. BTW, in case you are not aware, Google Glass does not have a volume control. You cannot make it louder or quieter. The volume level is fixed.)

Today’s lesson. The same or similar features already available on other types of devices can be still more useful when used with wearable devices like Google Glass. As many people have said, the question is not “if” but “when”, when it comes to wearable technologies.