After nearly a year of waiting, this week I finally got my chance to get Google Glass — the search giant’s work-in-progress headset that costs a whopping $US1,600 if you include taxes.
About three weeks before, Android Central reported that Google was beginning to send out invitations to buy into its Glass Explorer program to its paid All-Access Music subscribers. I had just finished my free trial and decided to stick with the service, so the news was a welcome surprise.
Weeks went by with nothing from Google in my inbox. I figured that my recent upgrade to the paid tier was holding up the invitation. Finally, it came — and I was given a choice: have it immediately shipped to me, or visit the company’s office in San Francisco to have a fitting and assisted setup session.
Since I had heard that the service given at the live session is comparable to that in Apple’s retail stores, I thought it would be worth it to wait a few extra days for the experience, as appointment slots were filled for most of the week.
As it turns out, it was. I’ve gone through a lot of phones and tablets in my time, and the in-person assistance Google gave me made for one of the best first experiences I’ve ever had with a gadget — it was even better than my experience getting the iPad Air from an Apple retail store when that launched.
You'd never be able to tell Google's San Francisco offices are residing in this unassuming building on the Embarcadero.
A team of Googlers awaits those with appointments. They verify that you've actually been invited to pick up Glass by checking your photo ID.
Next, I was led to one of several stations where you can try on the different colours of Glass available.
After spending five minutes deciding, I was led to another area full of tables equipped with mirrors. I was also offered my pick from a selection of nice beers and other beverages, which I declined.
The second iteration of Google Glass comes with a mono earbud. While Glass can deliver notifications by vibrating your skull (which is crazy the first time you try it), using an earbud lets you take advantage of Google All-Access Music.
The cord is really short, since it only has to go from your temple to your ear. It's nice to not have a cable going from your phone to your head, but it looks really silly if you take the earbud out for any reason.
While given a stylish flourish, the charger and cable that come with Glass are still the generic USB used by most Android smartphones.
After showing me everything that came with Glass, it was time to have it fitted to my face. No tools were needed -- the Googler helping me simply had to bend the part that goes on your nose for a second.
Next, we set up my Glass using a web app on a Chromebook Pixel. I registered my Glass, picked a couple of Glassware apps to install, and then connected it to Google's Wi-Fi.
Here's what the web app looks like. You can add or remove Glassware (you can't do this from the device), locate and reset your Glass, and add contacts for quickly messaging and calling people straight from your device.
Since entering your router information would be a pain with the limited interface on Glass, you primarily do it via the web interface or the smartphone app. You enter the router name and password and it generates a QR code containing the login information, which you can then scan with Google Glass to connect.
After completing the basic setup, I was guided through basic usage. Here's me wearing Glass with the mono earbud in, trying out All-Access Music.
And again, but with the optional sun shades clipped on. They're kind of a pain to put on the first time, but you can tell they won't fall off when you work out.
Here's the first photo taken by many Glass owners. Right outside of Google's office is a fantastic view of the Bay Bridge, perfect for Glass' wide-angle lens.
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