RIP Google Glass Explorer Program (2012-2015)

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Shortly after leaving work last night, I received this email:

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My feelings were bittersweet. I’ve been a Google beta tester for a long time, so I know that products and communities I love (*sniff, Google Wave*) might go away with little notice. But I also know that when they do, they often reappear in better, more useful forms (hello, G+!).

I also know that many of the Explorers who joined with the first wave in April 2012 no longer wear their Glass in public. Either because the initial high wore off or because they live in communities where the backlash has been paranoid witch-hunt level (looking at you San Francisco).

I was among the last of those invited to join the Explorer program, so I only got my first set last March. I’m well aware of the physical limitations — I’m on my third set. But I still see so much potential in the technology. For a moment I felt a little adrift. “What does this mean for us?” asked a friend. Google’s email didn’t tell us much past the fact that they were shutting down the community forums on Jan. 19.

Then I found this:

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So Google Glass no longer will bean experimental division, they’ll be their own independent part of Google. That’s promising. I still have a lot of questions: Will they sub out our sets for what they develop as the end consumer product for free? Will we get a sneak preview? Will communities for us to gather and share still exist? If I get my prescription frames filled will they fit with the new headset? Will functionality and Glassware apps stop working?

But I don’t feel as anxious anymore. Another feeling has replaced that: anticipation.

I’m curious: What are your thoughts? How do you feel about the Explorer program ending next week? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

10 more things no one tells you about Google Glass

I sat down to try and write five things I discovered about Google Glass. I ended up with a list of nearly 20. I shared the first half last week. If you missed them, you can find them here. Here are the other little tips and tricks I’ve figured out wearing Glass every day.

1. Someone always knows where you are (and how fast you’re going).

Until I got this email, I had no idea they knew *exactly* where I was and how fast I was going. (I was in a cab.)

Until I got this email, I had no idea how well they were able to track me. (I was in a cab.)

Of course, Google knows where you are, but you never really think about them tracking you through Glass. At least I know I didn’t until I received the above email. So … if you want to go off the grid, ditch the Glass.

2. You can screencast what you see in real time to others.

I started using the Screencast function rather than letting people try the Glass on when I realized they preferred having the demo at arm's length.

Screencast is great if you’re with someone who prefers to keep Glass at arm’s length.

Using the “Make a vignette” feature, you can share static images of what you’ve seen. But if you want people to see a real-time video feed of what you’re seeing, open up the MyGlass app and select “Screencast.” Follow the prompts and you’ll be able to show people what you’re currently seeing in your display.

** Bonus tip: If you hook your phone up to a projector, you can share the Screencast with a large audience. However, the display will be sideways. At least it will if you’re on an iPhone. Android users: Tell me if it’s sideways for you or if you’re able to get it to project normally in the comments, please! **

*** Bonus trivia: There used to be a way you could video stream your camera feed to people, but it wasn’t a popular feature, so it was scrapped. The Livestream app has largely replaced it. ***

3. You may need to log into a desktop browser before some apps will work.

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It took me a week to realize I needed a computer to subscribe to these workouts. Now I can add them on Glass as I go.

When you add apps through MyGlass there may be additional steps required to activate them, depending on the app. You should be brought to a screen that asks you to sign up or log-in. That’s a pretty recent development and one that I like a lot. Previously, you had to hit “More information” to discover you either needed an account or you had to visit the app developer’s website to get set up.

4. If an app stops working or disappears from your timeline or menu, just turn the app on and off in the MyGlass app.

I've had the CNN app loaded on Glass since Day 1, but it wasn't until I turned it off and back on again a couple of weeks ago that I actually started seeing its feed.

For the first time in five months, I started getting the CNN feed. All I had to do was shut it off for a sec.

Technically you can have as many apps as you want going at one time. But If I add too many apps at the same time, I’ve noticed some of my existing apps may disappear from my menu of options and some of the new ones never load in my timeline. If one drops off or fails to load, I just go to MyGlass -> Active Glassware and turn the missing app off, then on again. When I go back to Glass, it magically reappears.

5. You can scratch (and erode) the silvery stuff at the end of your Glass.

Evidently, this little guy is the reason why most people get new sets of Glass. Extreme heat, sweat or a sudden change of temperature all can warp this orbital pod foil.

Extreme heat, sweat or a sudden change of temperature all can warp this orbital pod foil. I’m on my second set.

I learned this in the silliest of all possible ways. I went for a jog, got really sweaty, then bent over to touch my toes for a good 30 seconds. When I stood up, I noticed the display was kind of foggy looking and the screen was really dim. Examining my Glass, I saw some condensation in what Isaac the Explorer at Basecamp called the “orbital pod.”

Three days later, the condensation was gone, but the display was still dim. That’s when I noticed that the square end of the pod looked wrinkly. I can only assume that getting sweat on the silver adhesive lining the outside of the pod eroded it somehow. Smoothing it down made the display brighter, but it was clearly torn. Lucky for me, this didn’t fit into the user error category and I was given the opportunity to trade my damaged Glass in for a new pair. I definitely pay attention to how I stretch post-workout now, though.

6. If you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, it might take a while for your phone and Glass to reconnect once you walk out of range.

Evidently there’s a bit of a gray area of connectivity when passing in and out of Wi-Fi networks you’ve added to your Glass. Because being charged and on Wi-Fi allows Glass to back up and update software and apps you don’t want to always be tethered to your phone. But be aware that if you walk out of your house and get into your car, things like directions may not be immediately available. If I want them, I sometimes have to physically reconnect your phone to Glass before they’ll work.

7. If you need a new pair of Glass, your old content will load on the new set as soon as you log into your Google account.

When you wear Glass you get really attached to it. I didn’t send back my damaged set until the new pair arrived. I worried a bit that I’d lose some data or functionality, so I backed up the old set to my computer first, unloading all my photos and videos. Once I’d set up the new pair, everything from my timeline was there.

8. You can “meet” the development team

Meet the develop team is the closest thing I've seen to augmented reality on Glass because it truly is a 360-degree panorama.

Meet the develop team is the closest thing I’ve seen to augmented reality on Glass because it truly is a 360-degree panorama. Hi Sergey! Nice shirt.

This truly is an Easter Egg the Glass team has left for those in the know to find in the settings menu. If you want to see a 360-degree panorama image of the people who made this technology possible, go to

Settings -> Device Info -> View licenses

Tap the touchpad nine times (you’ll hear Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do +)

Select “Meet team”

Turn around slowly and take in all the awesome people who made this possible.

Google Glass developers ... they're everywhere!

Google Glass developers … they’re everywhere! You can even see the ceiling and floor. Don’t get dizzy …

9. Every once in a while, you may see something that you won’t see again.

It’s no secret that Google Glass is still in flux. But every once in a while, something will turn up on my timeline that surprises me. Like this little feature …

What is this: Google Now? How can I get this to work all the time? If you know, please tell me in the comment section!

What is this: Google Now? How can I get this to work all the time? If you know, please tell me in the comment section!

I didn’t even care that they got the exact location of my car wrong, I was just psyched to see a where you parked your car feature because I. Need. One!

10. The use of motion detectors within Glass means that you may have to tweak your workout form.

In the end, it is kinda dependent on how you look at it all ...

In the end, it is kinda dependent on how you look at it all … if you want those squats to count.

Some Glassware uses Glass’ built-in motion detectors to register whether you’re doing things that you’re supposed to be doing (like sit-ups). The problem is that the trajectory the app looks for may differ slightly from how you normally move. For example, I’m used to looking up or straight ahead when I do squats or lunges. But for some reason when I do that, the Lynxfit app may not count any of those exercises and taunt me for not working out. To avoid that, I’ve learned to look down on each lunge or squat so they count. If you find yourself frustrated by a workout app not counting the push-ups or other work you’re doing, I recommend you play with where your gaze hits. That may solve the problem.

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Those are some of the cool, unusual and useful things I’ve discovered about Google Glass. Are there things you’d like to add to the list? Please share with me in the comments section!

#ifihadglass

What a brilliant marketing campaign #ifihadglass was. For weeks, Twitter was filled with the hopes and aspirations of what social mega-users would do if they could get a pair of Google Glass, 140 characters at a time.

Despite rumors that only social media superstars would win a pair, 61 percent had fewer than 1,000 followers. By April Fools Day 2013, 8,000 people received invitations like the one below.

Two weeks after Dan asked me if I wanted an invite into what Google was now calling the Glass Explorers Program, one had yet to make its way to my inbox. I’d already been waiting a year. But it was still hard.

Then one day, there it was:

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I DON’T KNOW WHY ALL THE GLASS MODELS HAVE AWESOME HAIR, BUT THEY DO. AND IT’S ALWAYS BLOWING IN THE WIND.