Google Glass: What You Can and Can't Do With Google's Wearable Computer


What can you do with them?
That gets us into the main things you can do with Glass right now. When you look into Glass, you get a very basic interface. It works like a carousel; you can swipe to the left or right to see features and your history -- what you searched for, what you took photos of, etc. Right now there are three main things you can do or see through Glass.

Take photos and video. Sure, it might seem like any wearable camera, but not having to fumble for your phone to snap a photo is a very convenient trick. That said, you will still want to grab your phone. Or at least I have wanted to – the 5-megapixel camera doesn't take very impressive photos and you can only share them on Google Plus for now. No Twitter, Instagram or Facebook sharing yet.

Get notifications and e-mails. You can view your Gmail messages, text messages and incoming calls. And then you can even respond to them by swiping through with the touchpad, tapping and hitting reply. Then say your response outloud and Glass will convert your speech to text. In my experience it has been quite accurate.

Many have asked if those notifications are distracting. They're really not. The notifications don't pop up when Glass is off; it's only once you turn them on and swipe through to other screens that you can see them. When I did get a call, though, it rang in my ear.

Use Google stuff. Then there are all of Google's goodies. You can see the weather, search Google and get mapping directions. As you see in the video, all you have to say is, "O.K., Glass, get directions to New Jersey," and it will show you the route right on the screen. The coolest part might be asking Google to translate something. "O.K., Glass, Google how do you say coffee in Italian," and you will then hear the answer in your ear -- caffe.

What can't you do with them?
Of course, there are a number of things you can't yet do with Glass. Sure, you can't do a lot of pie-in-the-sky things -- like look into the future -- but there are some things I expected them to do that they simply can't.

You can't look at something and have them search. No, you can't simply look at the subway and have the glasses recognize it. You can look at something and tell it to search for it, but that's about it.

You can't e-mail a photo. You have to share the photo on Google Plus right now.

You can't wear them all day long. Well, you can, but they will just be a funny-looking accessory since the battery doesn't last more than 3.5 hours right now.

You can't wear regular glasses or sunglasses with them. While Google makes a clip-on sunglass frame, you can't put these over a pair of regular glasses right now. They just don't fit well.

You can't easily connect. Setting up Glass on a home and open wireless network is easy, but when you move beyond that, things get complicated. You can't connect to a wireless network that requires you to sign on via a webpage. You also can't use 4G or LTE if you're Android phone doesn't support Bluetooth tethering. While you can use your iPhone with the glasses, it doesn't support text messages or GPS directions.

You can't buy or afford them. I paid $1,500 for my Glass. That's what Google is charging for the limited Explorer Edition, which it has promised to a couple of thousand early adopters. Google isn't selling them right now, but says it plans to sell them either later this year or early next for a more affordable price. But as they stand now, $1,500 is way too much for the limited functionality.

But all those can'ts are all part of this being something brand new. Google is calling these the Explorer Edition for a reason -- they want people to explore life behind a screen and think up new ideas and apps for the non-explorers. See, no matter how many questions I answer, there will be a lot more coming soon.

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