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A closer look at Google Glass: 16 neat features

Yesterday, Google Glass – the most sought-after toy in all of geekdom – was made available to all over in the States. For just one day, though – and only for those who were curious enough to spend $1,500 (£900) on a pair.

Since its introduction at Google I/O in 2012, Glass has been a gleaming example of the promised future actually coming to pass. However, the device was only available to a select few "Explorers" in the US to begin with (a policy that only managed to raise the WANT factor of the device). Now, however, it's gone more widespread...

So, supposing you're American, and you shelled out for Glass – what do you get, and what will you likely get, for all that money? Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.

Glass is a platform. And like all platforms, there is an army of developers constantly attempting to create the new "it" app. But unlike any of the "smart" form factors that came before it, Glass has a revolutionary new interface that exists directly on your face. There is no more screen, per se. There is no more mouse or keyboard. This is uncharted territory, which will bring magic new superpowers to the wearer of the device.

Glass has the ability to fulfil the promise of "augmented reality" that has not yet come to pass. The public never truly took a shine to AR on phones and tablets because it's uncomfortable to hold up a device to view the overlay, and as soon as you do, you reveal your digital world to any lookie-loos who happen to be nearby. This isn't the case with Glass.

Okay, on with the show, and our 16 neat Glass features, starting with...

Glass shows off what options users have available, ranging from taking pictures, engaging in a Google Hangout, recording a video, or sharing with others.


Glass can pop up a reminder on your screen to, well, remind you of an upcoming appointment or other meeting that you have planned.


Like one of the cards that pops up in Android, Google Glass can give you all the details on the weather.

Dictate texts

There's no reason why Glass can't be used to dictate texts or short messages to others, using the built-in microphone, Google's cloud-based speech recognition, and a wireless connection.

Travel alerts

We've never seen an alert when a public transportation link has been severed or is inoperable, but I assume Google has the capability to do so. This would be a handy feature.


We're not sure a "full-screen" overlay would be the most ideal rendering of map data, but this would certainly be a handy feature to have in most cases.

Turn-by-turn directions

One of the handiest features of Google Navigation is turn-by-turn directions. In this case, a visual direction combined with a street name is a helpful feature.


This is actually a capability that's in Android today, although I daresay that not many people use it. "Remind me" tells Android or Glass to set a meeting at a given time.

This uses a bit of magic, linking a reminder with a live event that Glass knows about.

Interior maps

Another capability that Google has added to its mapping capabilities, although it depends on the merchant – Strand Books, in this case. But yes, Glass users can navigate indoors, as long as the augmented GPS (GPS+Wi-Fi to determine location) knows where you are.

Check in

Google users can check in at locations. There's no sign of Google Wallet or any benefit from doing so, though.


Naturally, Google Glass users can take photos. This is in Glass today, although the photos (unsurprisingly) seem to suffer from rather poor quality levels compared to even a mobile phone camera.

Hangouts (with screen sharing)

A nice touch. With Glass, there's every reason to believe that not only could you join a Google Hangout, you could also share what you're seeing. In fact, with no self-facing camera, that might be the only way to communicate.

Take a photo with a wink

A face-based form factor demands a face-based UI. That's why it made sense when Google unveiled a "wink" functionality for Glass back in December. Now users can control their device with little more than a facial tic.

Play games

A number of "mini-games" have been developed to showcase how the specs are a future gaming platform with unique properties of their own.

Livestream from your face

With that fancy camera connected to Glass, you can broadcast your POV using the Livestream app.

Google Compass

You have access to a basic compass at all times.

For more on Glass, check out: Thoughts after using Google Glass for almost a year: Is this the future of wearables?

Image Credit: Cygnus921