Exploring Google Glass: A non-nerd's guide (and wish list)

Summary:Does Glass have any appeal or potential for the average consumer? Possibly...but it won't be easy for Google to get there.

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Google Glass is arguably the most buzzworthy gadget du jour, but there are plenty of critics (or naysayers, haters, realists -- pick your party) who are questioning the staying power behind the fancy spectacles.

See also: Exploring Google Glass: A fitting appointment, step-by-step (slideshow)

In order for Glass to establish a market, it's going to need to fill voids and wedge its way into everyday life.

(Not to mention it's going to need to get over a certain image problem. For reference, see the "White Men Wearing Google Glass" Tumblr, which has sparked a firestorm, suggesting that Glass could go the way of the pocket protector if Google isn't careful.)

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In response (or maybe in defense of Glass), ZDNet's esteemed editor-in-chief Larry Dignan thought I should give it a go in outlining a "non-nerd's guide" to using Glass -- if such a thing is even possible. CNET's Stephen Shankland quipped to me on Wednesday that is comparable to trying to write about Lamborghinis for non car-enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, I think in the future such a guide is possible...when there are more apps available for Glass. The problem (at least right now) is that there aren't enough things to do with Glass yet to justify a $1,500 price tag.

With the core features already onboard, here's how Google Glass can be put to use by just about anyone:

  • Directions: Why bother looking down at your phone when Glass can offer step-by-step navigation right in front of your eyes? There are fans on both sides of the road when it comes to using Glass while driving. But if you're walking down the street (and remember to look both ways when crossing), Glass directions keep your eyes off the sidewalk and facing forward.
  • Search: Apple's integration of Siri on the iPhone 4S made voice search look less crazy when walking down the street. Using the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, I had far better luck using Google Voice Search technology. The voice recognition system on Glass seems on par as the headset has returned relevant and quick results instantly without an errors over the last few days.
  • Photos: This is the most obvious and most advertised feature on Glass. The video recording feature was basically the star of the outrageous show when Glass was unveiled at Google I/O last year. Much like on smartphones and tablets, photos and videos are instantly uploaded to a user's Google+ account. Wearers can also instantly share this content publicly or with their Circles directly from the Glass interface.
  • News: The New York Times already has an app ready to go, so catching up with basic headlines and snippets from breaking news stories is a helpful function while on-the-go.
  • Email: This one works much like the news reader. Users could potentially send longer emails through narration, but a quick reply (sort of like a vocal text) would probably work best. (A Gmail account is required for setting up Glass, and I highly doubt Google will add support for any other email client soon...if ever.)
  • Path: If you're on Path, then like Google+, you can share content directly to the more private social network. Theoretically, you could then share the same content to other social networks you have linked to Path (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) by making an extra step on the desktop or mobile version. (That is, of course, if you are a Path user.)

For what else I want to see on Glass, read more >>

Photos: James Martin, CNET

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Hardware, Smartphones

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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