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Busting the 7 worst myths about Google Glass

Armando Rodriguez | May 30, 2013
We've using Glass for two weeks, and are ready to separate fact from fiction.

The famous "Okay Glass" phrase only works when Glass is on, and only when you're looking at the start screen. With those two conditions satisfied, saying "Okay Glass" produces a short list of commands that you can issue to Glass. But none of the commands involve any interaction with third-party apps or services. You can use voice commands to take a picture, for instance, but you have to use the touchpad to view that image in your timeline and to share it.

Myth: It replaces your cell phone
For a device that's supposed to free us from our smartphones, Glass can't do much on its own yet. Glass has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, but it lacks any sort of cellular connectivity. As a result, you can use Glass at home like a Wi-Fi-bound hermit—but if you want to use it while you're out on the town, you must tether the hardware to your phone.

You can still take pictures and videos without an Internet connection, but I'm not too keen on toting an extra gadget to do something my phone can already do on its own. Glass works with any smartphone that supports tethering over a Bluetooth connection, but you'll need an Android phone if you want to use the headset for turn-by-turn directions. Until Google creates a version of Glass that has its own GPS and cellular radios, your smartphone needs to tag along as well.

Myth: Glass users are constantly monitoring you
The number one question people ask me when they see me wearing Glass is whether I'm using it to record what they're doing. Their concerns aren't unfounded, of course: I have discreetly taken photos of coworkers without their being aware of what I was doing—you know, just to see if I could. As more Glass units make their way into the wild, I don't think it would be overly paranoid to keep an eye on the guy with the $1500 titanium headgear.

That said, secretly recording videos with Glass is a bit more difficult than using the device to discreetly snap a few photos. When you record video using Glass, the glass prism on the front of the device lights up brighter than normal. The person doing the recording also has to look right at the subject in order to record what it's doing.

So if you see someone wearing Glass and staring right at you for an extended period, and if the glass prism on his headset is lit up brighter than the Las Vegas strip, he's probably recording you. But is this a surprising development in our age of constant public surveillance? At least Glass users telegraph their intentions—they're totally conspicuous, and can't hide behind a veil of anonymity.


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