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.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 3.56.41 PM

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!

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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.

The unexpected benefit of wearing Google Glass

There’s an old saying I recently saw updated for the 21st century:

“Dance as if no one’s watching. They can’t, because they’re all looking at their phones.”

Mobile devices not only have turned us into an always-on culture, it’s forced our collective gaze downwards. We don’t see life passing in front of our eyes because we’re checking emails and replying to tweets.

It's hard to see what's happening when you're always looking down. Photo by Garry Knight via Flickr.

It’s hard to see what’s happening when you’re always looking down. Photo by Garry Knight via Flickr.

It’s not only compulsive behavior, it’s annoyingly anti-social. And aside from my husband and the few others who refuse to give up their flip-phones, we’re all guilty of it. Visit my house on the weekend and you might find my 4-year-old daughter on an iPad, my 17-year-old son texting and playing on his laptop, and me looking at my phone while we’re all together in the living room, watching TV. “So, what’s happening in Tiny Town?” my husband likes to ask. And I laugh, but it’s a guilty chuckle because I know deep down something’s wrong. The intense way we focus on these second screens keeps us from each other in what should be our most intimate moments.

It's amazing how even toddlers and pre-K kids love spending time in tiny town.

It’s amazing how even toddlers and pre-K kids love spending time in Tiny Town.

My initial fear after getting Glass was that it would suck me even further into Tiny Town. But something even stranger happened.

I started looking up. I put away my phone. I spent more time being present.

Because Google Glass provides an overlay on what you see, you never fully look away from what’s happening in front of you. There’s no need to go digging through your purse for your phone when you want to take a picture, see who retweeted you or check your email. It all loads on the Glass for you to check at your leisure. There are still alerts, but only you (not everyone in the doctor’s waiting room) can hear them. With a swipe of your finger, you can choose whether to look at and respond to them immediately or dismiss them.

Yes, Google Glass has an app that allows you to identify songs on the radio so you can sing along.

Yes, Google Glass has an app that allows you to identify songs on the radio so you can sing along.

People ask all the time if it’s distracting to wear Glass while I drive. I actually find the directions are much easier to follow on Glass than when they’re on my phone because I never have to take my eyes off the road (and it can’t fall under my seat like my cell often does when I need it).

I think most people think that wearing Glass is like being exposed to a never-ending ticker of data. But the reality is the default display setting is off. And if there is an alert, it’s easier to ignore than a text message on my phone. I can answer calls hands-free using voice commands and the headset, so my hands never leave the wheel.

It may seem corny, but Google Glass fills me with a sense of optimism for the future. It’s hard not to feel better, though, when your eyes are always looking up at the world ahead of you.

“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.” ~  Dag Hammarskjold

“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.” ~ Dag Hammarskjold

The top 5 questions people ask about Google Glass

At a conference in San Francisco, they had a professional headshot station. I couldn't resist getting this shot made so I could appear to be a professional #Glasshole.

At a conference in San Francisco, they had a professional headshot station. I couldn’t resist getting this shot made so I could appear to be a professional #Glasshole.

Wearing Glass definitely makes a statement. And the general public is still divided on whether that’s a good or bad thing. Walking around with a 15GB face computer/mobile video camera above your right eye attracts a lot of attention and questions. But I’ve found they boil down to five main ones.

1. “What is that?”

I wear Glass every day, and rarely can anyone identify it by name. A teenager in Kroger and a RadioShack clerk are the only two people who asked right off the bat if I was wearing Google Glass. Everyone else wants to know what it is or asks if it’s “that Google thingy.” Once I confirm it is Glass, most people have heard of it and get excited because they’ve never seen one before. If I’m not holding up anyone in line, I’ll let them try it on or open the MyGlass app on my phone so they can see what I’m seeing. That’s the fun part.

2. “Do you work for Google?” 

Now that anyone with $1,500 bucks can become an Explorer, I hear this less often. But when I first started wearing Glass in public, everyone who engaged me asked if I was a Google employee. I wish. Although I suspect they had to purchase their own set just like everyone else. Now they just ask if I’m “in tech.”

3. “Are you filming me right now?”

To be honest, Glass only has 45 minutes of continuous battery life and you’re not that interesting. No offense, but I’m pretty self-involved and want to use Glass to record my thoughts and facilitate what I’m working on. 

Not that I’m not beaming data to Google constantly. But it’s my own personal data, not yours. I don’t think I was fully aware of this until I was emailing Glass support from a cab last week. Their response: Please don’t use Glass while you’re in a car. That freaked me out.

What should freak you out are all the cameras recording what you’re doing in public that you can’t see. Those are on 24 hours a day. And sending data to government databases.

4. “How does it work?”

It tethers to the hotspot on your phone or a local Wi-Fi connection so it can communicate with and back up your data to the cloud. The actions it performs are tied to apps you activate from within the MyGlass app that lives on your smartphone.

5. “What does it do?”

The short answer is: A hell of a lot more than it did a year ago. 

The long answer is: It depends on what you want it to do. Are you a fitness buff? You can download workout apps. You can use Glass to learn French, Spanish or Chinese. It can tell you about cool nearby attractions or events. You can have it read you the latest stories from Mashable or CNN. You can check stocks, take and share pictures on social networks, record vocal notes in Evernote, create shopping lists, upload videos directly to YouTube, view postcards left in space by other Explorers, join Hangouts, answer phone calls, post to Tumblr, get directions and much, much more.

The sad answer is: Most people still only use Google Glass to take pictures and videos. That’s why I wear my set every day. I’m curious about how wearable technology can make life and work easier. Those thoughts, app reviews and other observations are what I’ll share with you here.

So now you’ve gotten answers to questions other people ask. What questions do you have? Leave them in the comments below.