9 things no one tells you about Google Glass

Google Glass is designed to be intuitive, so the instructions it ships with are minimal. Basically, there’s a diagram with button labels and the directive not to get them wet. Consequently, there are a lot of Glass features, tips and tricks you have to discover for yourself. If you’re feeling lazy, I went ahead and started to write some down.

1. Beta features are hidden in your Settings.

Winking allows for hands-free picture-taking. It's super awesome for capturing family shots or images on the go. Super awkward to do in the bathroom, though.

Enabling “Wink” allows for hands-free picture-taking. It’s super awesome for capturing family shots or images on the go. Super awkward to do in the bathroom, though.

If you scroll your main menu back to front, you’ll arrive at the Settings window, which displays whether you’re connected to a device and battery life. Tap and you’ll be able to scroll through different settings. Near the end of these options are two features I love. The first one is the most dependable (and no longer beta). It’s Wink, as in: Wink to take a photo. The second allows you to calibrate the Glass to your gaze so you can look up to see notifications instead of jerking your head up or tapping the scroll arm. When it works, it’s awesome. When it doesn’t, it’s a sign that you need to recalibrate. It’s worthwhile to scroll through all the settings periodically so you can see new beta features as they become available.

2. You can make a photo vignette showing the Glass’ display screen.

Make sure you're looking at what you want to have in the vignette window before you take the picture. If you wait too long after taking the picture to tap the arm, the option to make a vignette will disappear.

Make sure you’re looking at what you want to have in the vignette window before you take the picture. If you wait too long after taking the picture to tap the arm, the option to make a vignette will disappear.

Wish you could share what you’re seeing on Glass with other people? You can! Take a picture, then immediately tap the scroll arm. The first option you’ll see is to make a vignette. If you didn’t have any apps running, the generic “ok glass” home screen with the time will appear in the upper right-hand corner of the image. If you have an app running or were looking at pictures or other areas of your timeline, an image of that will be featured in the vignette.

3. Backing up images to G+ gives you auto awesome photos, videos and stories.

Auto awesome images take many forms. In addition to enhanced, you also might see mosaics, videos and whole event stories created from your backed-up images.

Auto awesome images take many forms. In addition to enhanced, you also might see mosaics, videos and whole event stories created from your backed-up images.

If the thought of someone going through your photos and randomly enhancing them doesn’t creep you out, then make sure you allow Glass to backup your images to the cloud. From time to time, you’ll receive a notification that there’s a new auto awesome image or video waiting for you. True, it’s done using filters that you could play with too, but there’s something kind of magic about having a video of a major life event already edited and scored with sound that you can share without having done any work other than capture the moments. If you don’t like the images selected for the stories, you can remove and add others as well as titles and captions before publishing and sharing. This feature isn’t recommended for sexters.

4. You can zoom in and out of websites.

If you’re using an app like AP’s news reader that dumps you onto a website rather than gives you a “read aloud” option, you need to know how to scroll and zoom because websites aren’t optimized for Glass yet. To scroll, tap Glass’ arm with two fingers. As you drag your fingers apart from each other, you’ll see the screen get larger. Bring your fingers closer to zoom out. Tap to click on web links. Unfortunately, you might find that you still can’t read the website. That’s the reason why I uninstalled the AP app. Glass has so many news apps that will read you the stories or headlines that there’s no need to use one with a cruddy interface. But as web designers start to code for Glass, I think this feature will become more useful.

5. There is a right way to plug it in.

I have about 20 upside down photos from unplugging my Glass before I realized this is the proper way to charge it.

I have about 20 upside down photos from unplugging my Glass before I realized this is the proper way.

The first few weeks I had Glass, I turned it upside down to charge it because the plug is on the bottom of the arm. But every time I picked the set back up, I accidentally took a picture. I came to find out that Glass is designed to balance right-way up as it charges. Match the white side of the plug to the white side of the arm and black side to black and you’ll always know which way the plug goes in. Look closely at the charger unit and you’ll see it similarly color coordinates to its cord. Unlike other chargers (cough *Apple* cough), it minimizes the space it takes up in a very considerate way on your powerstrip, too.

6. There is a shortcut to taking video.

If you push this silver button down, you'll take a picture. Hold it down and you'll start the video camera. Default length is 10 seconds unless you hit the button a second time. Stop filming by tapping the arm. For some reason, the button doesn't work to end the filming once you've opted to extend it.

If you push this silver button down, you’ll take a picture. Hold it down and you’ll start the video camera. Default length is 10 seconds unless you hit the button a second time. Stop filming by tapping the arm. For some reason, the button doesn’t work to end the filming once you’ve opted to extend it.

There are lots of ways to take a photo: You can select the option off the touch or voice-operated menu, press the camera button over your eye or even wink (if enabled). For the first few days I puzzled over why there were so many shortcuts to take a photo but no video shortcuts. Then I realized that if you hold the camera button down for a couple of seconds, it will start taking video. Touch the scroll arm if you want to extend the filming past the first 10 seconds.

7. You can fast-forward through timeline and menus.

Most Glass users swipe through one option or timeline moment at a time. But try giving the arm a big sweep from back to front or front to back. All of a sudden, the timeline elements pull back and you can skip ahead or back quickly. This is incredibly useful if you’re searching through contacts or want to find something you experienced days (or months) ago.

8. There’s a low-tech way to increase headset volume.

Use your thumb to press the back of Glass to the bone behind your ear. You may have to adjust that pressure and the angle of your fingertips to get the best sound, but it works pretty well once you get the hang of it.

Use your thumb to press the back of Glass to the bone behind your ear. You may have to adjust that pressure and the angle of your fingertips to get the best sound, but it works pretty well once you get the hang of it.

If you forget your ear bud and are somewhere noisy, you can increase the volume by cupping your right ear and pressing Glass to the bone behind it. Just don’t touch the arm in front of your ear, or you’ll pause whatever’s playing.

9. You can download content from Glass to your desktop computer.

It took me a while to figure out that the charger cable also allowed me to connect Glass to my laptop, where it appeared like another camera device. I’m a Mac user, so I worried that I wouldn’t be able to use iPhoto or iMovie, but when those programs were open, I was able to import media easily. Don’t forget to download and delete content frequently. Otherwise your timeline will get unruly, your memory usage will bloat and operating speed will decrease.

** Bonus tip for iPhone users** 

10. You can have more than 10 contacts. 

Being able to text message people from Glass is the coolest feature I can’t use because I’m on an iPhone. In the MyGlass app, I’m also limited to entering 10 people’s profiles that I can share with or call. But that doesn’t mean I can’t access everyone in my phone’s address book. Scroll past those 10 contacts and you’ll start to see your entire contact list appear. You may have to scroll a while, but it’ll give you an excuse to practice your fast-forward swipe.

Do you have any tips or tricks you'd like to share? Post them in the comment section below! I'll share 10 new things no one tells you about Google Glass next week.

Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Post them in the comment section below! I’ll share 10 new things no one tells you about Google Glass in the next post.