Playing with (Google) Glass
Google Glass came to work today. Ian brought his brand-new baby in — and after what seemed like an eternity, he let several of us play with it.
Here are a couple of quick impressions about the May 2013 version of Google Glass:
It’s really wearable. Having worn a number of AR displays, Glass was surprisingly comfortable to wear, even over my glasses. The unit was light, flexible, and well-balanced. It was natural to look at the display, which was particularly remarkable when showing output from the camera. I would have appreciated a little more contrast when I was looking at its text displays, although I’m sure that’s got to be configurable.
It doesn’t do all that much. Yet. I was put off by how little Glass could actually do right now. Yes, picture taking and video capture was wonderful. It delivers on that vibrant, real-time first-person video experience that I had hoped GoPro could have delivered. Yes, directions were cool. But it does precious few of the things I wanted it to do. Search results? Kind of, but you can’t click through to the links. Pictures? YouTube videos? Nope. Answers to questions? Not yet. Location finding? Nope. Object recognition from a photo? No. Although I’m sure all of those use cases will be supported, seeing where Google’s investing — and what’s already on Android.
It’s somewhat tough to use. The touchable arm is pretty sweet — you can flick through screens, close apps, etc. But I kept getting stuck and not being able to reset back to the home screen. It definitely needed a middle button; the only button on the hardware brought up camera mode, which was cool, but not what I needed to make the software interface more usable. And while Google’s voice recognition is second-to-none, the very templatic ways you invoke each of the services seemed heavy-handed. Do you really need to say “Okay, Glass” to wake it up? Do you really need to name the service that you want to use (as in “Okay, Glass: Google: ‘show me pictures of Winona Ryder’.”) Shouldn’t the hardware that’s going to reveal the power of context to make search less annoying — or more intentional — actually be able to recognize intention from text? We know that Google can do it — excluding it from Glass seems a pretty nasty oversight early on. The amount of chatting you had to do to this amazing piece of technology made the interface an immediate punchline around the office.
It eats your phone’s battery. Unsurprising? The Glass itself didn’t last the day, even though it was sparingly used for the most part. New hardware will do that, for the most part. What was surprising was that Ian’s Nexus 4 burned about 15%/hour on average running the Glass app (in addition to other apps, including Saga). That was frustrating, given how little the app actually appeared to be doing, other than pushing content from Android native services to screen.
I’m glad Google is investing in this area — and I’m glad I live in a world where Google already has answers and applications that address most of the shortcomings that I’ve called out here. But I was underwhelmed. I would have expected that Google would have invested more in wowing us with some of the core services they have (search, object recognition, natural language processing). I was impressed with the technology, but I kept feeling like I had taken a major step back in terms of functionality.
We’re Hiring: Android Developer at A.R.O., Inc.
A.R.O., Inc. is a Seattle-based startup dedicated to building apps that can help users lead happier, healthier, and generally more amazing lives. We believe that today’s apps can be positive forces for change — whether it’s changing one’s own habits and behaviors, figuring out something new to do on a Saturday night, or taking small steps to make the world a better place to hang out in for a while.
We’re passionate about location awareness, big data, artificial intelligence, persuasive technology, and ubiquitous computing. We also love mobile devices of all sorts, whether they’re smartphones, tablets, cybernetic implants, or even wearable computers.
You may have heard of our recently released application for both Android and iOS called Saga (http://www.getsaga.com). We’re excited to have this application out in the world because it represents a significant amount of work from us and, more importantly, it represents a huge step forward in what technology can do for all of us. The technology demonstrated by Saga is exactly the type of thing you’d be working on. As an Android Developer on the Client Team, you will focus on building out technology that squeezes every bit of information out of the device-sensors. You’ll solve problems like automatically determining users’ home and work without pesky check-ins. You’ll take on challenges such as determining users’ routines to present alternatives and insight (e.g., “When you leave work at 5pm it takes you 25 minutes longer to get home than when you leave at 5:30pm”)… and that’s just the beginning.
If you are passionate about building software products, expect more from your apps (and you should), and are fearlessly pursuing your dreams, we want to hear from you!
What we’re looking for:
- A passion for development, Android, and technology in general
- Solid Java experience and understanding of OOP
- Android development experience with at least one published app
- Experience working with APIs
- Ability to work both independently and within the context of a group
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Degree in Computer Science or related technical discipline (or equivalent).
We offer an all the goodies you would expect and more, including full benefits, equity, 3 weeks PTO, easy commute to the ID section of Seattle, and access to the latest and greatest gadgets — plus a small but strong team to be a part of and be heard.
If this sounds like the right kind of stuff for you, submit your resume to us at email@example.com.
Loving the ordinary
I love ordinary days. Ones that are so unexceptional that you’re likely to forget all about them the minute your head hits your pillow.
You know the kind. You wake up at your usual time. The usual shower. The usual commute. The normal workday. The ride home. Dinner, maybe a drink. Post-prandial activities. Sleep. No big.
I find there’s something beautiful about the run-of-the-mill. The familiar. The work-a-day. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Part of that may be the result of me not having had that many ordinary days recently. I moved to Seattle. Fought cancer. Got married. Had a baby. Started a new company. Complicated is my new normal. And that’s just fine by me.
But I think there’s something more to it.
As humans, we’re innately predisposed to find the exceptional.
When faced with the familiar, we make our own meaning. We find significance in exactly the same places where it may have eluded us previously. Or where others might not see anything of importance at all.
I love ordinary days in the same way that I love blank books. Or reams of plain, white paper. There’s potential there. A subtle calling to create something. To find something so beautiful in your world that it’s worthy of filling up all that white space.
Truly ordinary days pose the same kind of challenge. Since everything is backgrounded, they force us to be mindful of what’s new, different, or exceptional. They offer up new opportunities to understand what’s special about the world we inhabit.
That’s why I dream about the ordinary. I want to read between the lines. To see the sublime in the mundane. To know me.
I’m not kidding. I want to have a set bed time. I’d tweet it. I’d use it as part of my identity. I’d let everyone know that for me, 11:54 pm is lights out. And I’d bond with people who had the good judgment to fall asleep in the same quarter hour as me.
There’s so much I want to discover about the ordinary. I want to know that, left to my own devices, that I’ll wake between 7:23 and 7:28 every morning. I want to know that I eat more fast food around the time I have to make payroll. Or that I make healthier food choices when I have fewer meetings.
I want to have internalized my commute so well that I know when to leave to get to work exactly on time. I want to be so familiar with my local big box supermarket that there’s something beautiful in the unconscious way I navigate it. Onlookers will think I’m prescient, gifted, elegant, blessed.
When I tell people about Saga, they often say, “Automatic lifelogging? How cool — but I’d never use that. My life’s not worth recording.” I can’t stand it. How can they miss so much beauty?