A Quora user expressed their frustration with Glass limitations this week, earning a response from no other than current Glass evangelist Robert Scoble. Listing a series of shortcomings to the API, the developer posted:
Although there are some built-in features for end users, as a developer, the Google Glass appears to be nothing more than a limited wearable display that I can push very limited static content into. It’s Twitter, but beamed straight into the user’s eyeballs. I’m sure some clever individuals will think of some things to do with that, but every idea I’ve come up with so far requires access to the hardware.
Scoble’s response addresses these issues at length:
“I talked with some people on the Google Glass team when I picked mine up earlier this week about some of these issues.
The team made a philosophical choice to have the screen above your eye line to keep it “human.” Also to avoid distraction issues when walking around or driving. The battery life is a real problem too. One six-minute video I did took 20% of the battery. So, Google designed these to have a very simplistic UI, cards, and have them on screen for just a few seconds, to save battery.”
With many already wondering exactly how much battery life the Glass units have (along with Android’s hit or miss history with battery efficiency), starting off with a focus on preserving battery life shows a commitment to resolving those issues.
“There are two additional concerns:
1. Google wants to make Google+ the centerpiece of the Glass experience.
2. Google wants to keep people from getting freaked out about privacy concerns.
Add all these things together and you can see why Google doesn’t want to allow in-app image processing.
It’s frustrating, yes, but after seeing these constraints and having the Glass for a few days now, I get why Google made the API choices it did. Will Google add more to the API over time? I bet it will.”
This is almost a no-brainer; given Google’s recent acquisitions of Behavio and Wavii, there is clearly more functionality coming. However, Scoble may be missing the mark here: Google+ may provide the social interactions, but it seems much more likely that an enhanced Google Now will make up the centerpoint of the Glass experience.
Scoble closed out his reply with observations about both Glass culture, and the future of wearable tech:
“I can solve the battery issues with an external battery pack, but so many people are so freaked out about the privacy concerns that I’m not sure we’ll quickly see an answer to those.
As to the “strategy taxes” that Google faces internally (IE, make Google+ the first-class Glass citizen), not sure how to solve those. Microsoft faced similar problems on its Tablet PC and it took eight years for Apple to come along and blow away Microsoft’s efforts with the iPad. That solved those issues. I bet that in the next five years we could see a competitive product from, say, Facebook, that will blow away the Google effort.”
The only way this would happen is if, like Microsoft and their tablets, Google sat on the Glass hardware, failing to make substantive improvements and adjustments to market needs. Given how proactive the G+ team has been with improving the experience constantly, I just don’t see that being the case.
Scoble has been notably wrong on a few previous occasions (most obviously, his early position on Google+), but with a high level position in technology, and ready access to the Google engineering team, he’s often on the vanguard of new technology experiences. His status as a Google Glass explorer means that we’ll continue to see timely analysis come from his first person usage of the highly desired hardware.