Home > Articles

Google Glass: Continual Improvement and the Consumer Experience

Should you become a Google Glass Explorer? Opinions on the latest in wearable computing vary, from backlash reports to quirky first-hand experiences. Mark Scheel took the plunge and summarizes his experience with the Google Glass product from May 2012 through August 2013.
Like this article? We recommend

June 2012. Google I/O, the annual Google developer conference kicks off with a bang. Sergey Brin oversees the first, and probably most epic, of many publicity stunts for the newest evolution in wearable computing.

To introduce Google Glass, stunt men jump out of an airship and skydive to the roof of Moscone Convention Center. The stunt is broadcast by live streamed video, captured in first person with Google Glass.

Attendees willing to become Glass Explorers (early adopters of the product) queue up to provide credit card information. I get a commemorative Glass block as a placeholder. Etched in the glass is #117, to indicate that I am the 117th of an eventual 2000 Explorers.

Later, another 2000 Explorers sign up through an online contest. Glass is still not publicly available for sale. Not unlike Willy Wonka’s golden tickets, only a select few are privy to this bleeding-edge experience. The inherent mystique in such a product rollout is a genius marketing move, perhaps an homage to the long-running manufactured scarcity Apple has perfected.

It is May of 2013 before the first substantial wave of Explorers get their hands on Glass-a wearable computing device with a small glass block that sits above the user’s line of sight and offers a 640 x 360 pixel display that mimics a 25-inch television screen at a distance of 8 feet.

Google Glass comes in four colors, uses bone conduction audio technology, can shoot 720P video. and take pictures with a 5 Megapixel camera. It has a multitouch swipe interface on the side of the user’s head, and can also take voice commands and head tilt gestures as controlling commands.

The first launch comes with an operating system code named XE4 for Explorer Edition 4. It is a minimum viable product that would make the most stoic agile coach jump for joy at the expertly executed vertical cake slicing.

For example, the device requires sound for almost every feature, yet there is no volume control. Google Hangout functionality exists and works sometimes, but not always. You can add contacts to share with from Glass, but are limited to a measly 10 total contacts.

Still, the team at Google X has shipped a product. Cue the agile coach applause. All praise vertical slicing and shippable work products.

Google will iterate at a furious pace over the next several months. Almost immediately, devices automatically upgrade to XE5 when plugged in to a power source and connected to WiFi.

XE4 was launched on May 2, 2013. XE5 releases on May 7, 2013. More than a dozen enhancements and features are included, headlined by better hangout functionality, international number dialing, better battery charge level estimation, and speedier transcriptions of spoken commands.

XE6 came out June 4, 2013, and it makes the process of adding contacts to Google Glass much smoother. You no longer have to go to a website on your computer to enable them. The camera is improved, with always on HDR. Shared images can now be captioned. Yet still, no volume controls.

With XE7, released on July 2, 2013, Glass has a web browser. A new action for search cards (see the explanation of timeline cards below) is View Website. Scroll a web page by swiping forward on the touchpad. Zoom with a pinch gesture. With two fingers pressed on the touch pad, use head movement to pan and change the visible area of the web page-a centered cross-hair lets you click links by tapping.

Glass has always had some hands-free functionality. Now it has even more. You can interact with incoming SMS messages, share that picture you just took, and manage incoming calls with new voice commands.

Finally, the already amazing search functionality powered by Google Now is contextually aware. Ask where the Eiffel Tower is; then next ask how tall “it” is, and Glass will know that you are talking about the famous landmark.

The latest release as of this writing, XE8, arrived on August 18, 2013. As of XE7, you could awkwardly view video by going to a YouTube website and watching video within a web page, but now there are more native and better video playback features.

Tap to play and pause; swipe to advance and rewind. New voice actions with Evernote integration are available and are a harbinger for more custom command for glassware in the future. And finally, volume controls! They’re in the settings cards, accessed by scrolling backward from the home (clock) screen.

Hashtag functionality, reservation timeline cards, and multitasking during hangouts are just a few of the many features I have skipped in this overview. I think you can see what I mean when I say this product is evolving at a rapid pace. I dare say it might even be good enough for consumers by the 2013 holiday season although all public information still points to a 2014 wide release.

Since receiving my Glass at the presidential suite in a fancy San Francisco hotel, the product has evolved greatly. I recently engaged in a Google hangout with a friend at a Glass event in San Francisco. I could see Jenny Murphy, a member of the Glass team, while he could see the downtown Denver skyline from a hilltop west of the city. I have taken advantage of Glass as the ultimate navigation assistant, good while on foot, on a bicycle, or in a car.

I have spoken about Glass in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Denver, and Boulder. One of the most common questions is this: What do I do the most with Glass?

For me, Glass is a Go-Pro killer. Its capability to take first-person sports action photos and video is incredible. And it’s durable, too. I have crashed on my mountain bike on multiple occasions and even sunk in a pond I was skimming on a snowboard run (do not try this at home!).

And that’s just my favorite feature; there are obviously a practically unlimited number of things you can do with Google Glass as a consumer user.

In my next article, I will focus on what developers can do with Glass.

The Mirror API, the initial way for developers to write software for Glass-glassware-was first released on April 15, 2013. Glass has a primary interface known as the timeline, a series of swipeable cards that can be anything from a received message (SMS, email, other) to information from a query, to navigation directions.

Since the release of XE8, Google has started to more overtly encourage Android developers to get in on the fun. Glass is running Ice Cream Sandwich Android underneath the covers, and it is possible to side load APKs (android applications) onto Glass.

It’s not quite a full-fledged Android phone or tablet, and my next article will go into more detail about this, exploring the possibilities for native Android development on Google Glass.

Google Glass is an exceptional product. Its iterative improvement has astounded me. Its marketing has been incredible. The experience as a consumer user of Google Glass has been top notch.

Still, opinions on the latest in wearable computing vary, from backlash reports to quirky first-hand experiences. But for me, it has been a wild and evolving ride, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020