Emily Nussbaum, the wife of New York Times writer Clive Thompson, pointed out an interesting aspect of how Google Glass shares photos in a blog item about
what it was like to live with someone wearing Glass all the time: All photos taken on Google Glass are automatically backed up and shared on Google+.
This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you consider the details. And those details suggest Glass could become a huge threat to Facebook and Instagram.
It’s clear from Thompson’s piece on wearing Google’s glasses that one of the major changes the device will create is in photography. Look how different the two experiences now are:
- With Glass, you can take a picture of whatever you’re looking at simply by touching the frame or speaking a voice command. The photo is then automatically stored and/or shared on Google+.
- With a mobile phone, you can take a picture only after you pull your phone from your pocket, swipe the screen to open it, maybe tap in a password also. Then you have to open the camera app from the homescreen, and point the phone at the object you’re trying to snap. Only then can you take a picture. (Think of how many photo ops you’ve missed because you couldn’t do this fast enough!) With the picture taken, you’re required to tap several more app commands in order to share the pic.
Instagram — owned by Facebook — is a great app, but compared to Google Glass it now looks rather laborious. In fact, Nussbaum complained that her husband was sharing his photos on Google+, but not with her:
When he was out, he kept sending me pictures of the kids, but to see them, I had to log in to Google Plus. Look, I’ve been spoiled by digital convenience. Just take a photo on your phone and text me the darn thing.
Another way to look at her experience is to note the opposite complaint: that it would simply be easier for her to see the pics, and for him to share them, if she was on Google+.
Google Glass is not likely to completely replace the mobile phone. The spectacles are a barrier between normal human interaction, so many people will not want to wear them all the time. But it’s obvious that Glass has huge applications in business and specific “experience” settings. I might want to wear Glass while I’m at a concert, for instance, so I can enjoy the show again later. Or if I’m a reporter on a remote assignment, my editors might want to see what I’m seeing. Protestors should use them on demonstrations to guard against police brutality.
But the killer app, at least initially, for Glass is likely to be photos. Glass photos make mobile phone photos look as labour-intensive as using an old-fashioned camera.
And if Glass photography becomes popular, then the default photosharing app will be Google+ — not Facebook or Instagram.