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Using Google Glass with Your iOS Device

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Historically, Google has left iPhone users a bit "out in the cold" with respect to integration with their Google Glass wearable tech device. However, more recently Google updated the Glass firmware and the MyGlass iOS app to make it possible to do far more with the Glass-iPhone pairing than ever before.
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In February 2013, Google gave select individuals access to its Google Glass wearable tech, augmented reality hardware device. As you probably know, Google owns all elements of the primary Glass ecosystem: Gmail, Google+, and Android. Until Google released the XE12 update in December 2013, the Google Glass was usable only by those who carried Android smart devices. iPhone users were, quite literally, left out in the cold.

Nowadays those of us who use iDevices can have a reasonable degree of Glass parity with our Android-equipped brethren. My purpose in writing this article is to smooth your way and ensure the best possible flexibility between your iDevice and your Google Glass device. Let's get started.

Setting Up Your Environment

I have to assume that you got your hands on Google Glass hardware one way or the other. I'm also assuming you have an iPhone running iOS 7. What are your next steps?

First, create a Google account. You can have a Google account for fun and for free by simply registering at the Google website. After you do that, spend some time setting up your Gmail mail and contacts, as well as outfitting your Google+ profile. As you'll see in a moment, the Glass-iPhone integration relies upon your Google data, not anything that you likely have stored in your iCloud account or on your iDevice itself. Figure 1 shows the Gmail contacts interface.

Figure 1 To use Google Glass with your iDevice, you need to populate the Gmail Contacts list

Second, load the MyGlass app on your iPhone. You can download MyGlass for free from the App Store; although, the app is absolutely worthless without a Google Glass. You use MyGlass both to perform the initial setup for your Glass as well as load Glass apps (called, cheekily enough, Glassware) on your Glass device.

Third, pair the Glass to your iPhone. By running the initial Setup Wizard on your Glass, you can create a Bluetooth pairing relationship between the two devices. The Glass uses the Bluetooth connection to make and receive phone calls. Figure 2 shows you the Bluetooth pairing request dialog box. By the way, to get to Bluetooth settings on your iPhone, open the Settings app and navigate to Bluetooth.

Figure 2 Pairing your Glass with your iPhone works basically the same way as pairing with any other Bluetooth device

Fourth, enable Personal Hotspot on your iPhone. The iOS 7 Personal Hotspot feature allows your Google Glass to access the Internet via your cell phone's carrier data connection. To enable Personal Hotspot, navigate to Settings > Personal Hotspot, and flip the switch to complete the Glass-iPhone tethering process.

Another option to provide your Glass with Internet access is to use MyGlass to generate a QR code for your Wi-Fi network. You then can literally look at the QR code through the Google Glass prism to join the Wi-Fi network without having to supply a username and password. However, the Wi-Fi option robs you of the ability to do the really cool stuff with Glass like turn-by-turn navigation. Unfortunately, you can't use Wi-Fi and Personal Hotspot simultaneously.

Fifth, load some Glassware, especially the Google+ app. On your iPhone, open MyGlass, navigate to the Glassware Gallery, and load the following Glassware apps, at the least:

  • Gmail
  • Hangouts
  • Google+

Figure 3 shows the Glassware Gallery. Any Glassware that you load onto your Glass will thereafter appear in the “Active Glassware” section in the MyGlass app.

Figure 3 The MyGlass app includes the Glassware Gallery, from which you can select and load first- and third-party Glass apps onto your device

Sixth, create Glass contacts from your Gmail contacts list. This step is infuriating for me as an iDevice user. First, I had to monkey around with getting my contacts from iCloud into Gmail. Now I have to create separate contacts inside MyGlass; otherwise, I can’t reach them from my Glass device. As you can see in Figure 4, you can perform a quasi-import from Gmail by looking up names, but you still need to create contacts one-by-one. Bummer.

Figure 4 To be honest, it's annoying that MyGlass doesn't automatically access or import my Gmail contacts

Wow! This was quite an obstacle course in getting the iDevice talking to Google Glass. Wouldn't you agree? I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you that Android users don't have to worry about most of those steps. Regardless, now accentuate the positive and turn your attention to what really counts; namely, what you do with your Glass now that you performed all this preliminary work?

Interacting with Your Contacts

To place an audio call to one of your contacts, simply say

Okay, Glass. Make a call to...<contact name>

I was somewhat conflicted on how to show you interface screen shots. On one hand, I wanted to show you only the Glass overlay. On the other hand, those of you who don't yet have Glass would be interested to see the overlay in your normal visual context. Thus, I opted for the latter approach, as you can see in Figure 5. I took most of these pictures from my (messy) home office, looking out into our hallway. Please excuse the mess. :)

Figure 5 Making a voice call from Glass

By the way, you can actually carry on the voice conversation with the Glass. The device obviously has a built-in microphone, and the bone-conduction speaker gives you the audio stream.

To send an e-mail message to one of your contacts, speak to your Glass as usual:

Okay, Glass. Send a message to...<contact name>

You can see what the e-mail interface looks like in Figure 6.

Figure 6 Working with e-mail on the Glass is actually pretty easy

When you receive an incoming e-mail message, you can use touch gestures on the Glass' right bow to read it, and you can use your voice or touch to reply, reply all, forward, archive, or delete the message as usual. The e-mail functionality on the Glass is great, in my humble opinion.

I could go on, but I think you get the general idea. So long as you have your contacts' e-mail addresses, links to Google+ profiles, and telephone numbers populated in MyGlass, you can reach out to those contacts simply by using Google Glass voice commands.

Using Turn-by-Turn Navigation

For me one of the marquee features of Google Glass is the turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Again, the technology requires that your Glass uses your iPhone's data connection and location services, but the technology is definitely convenient. For example, this morning I stood in my driveway and said to my Glass

Okay, Glass. get directions to...Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee

You can see what the resulting 3-D interface looks like in Figure 7.

Figure 7 The turn-by-turn GPS directions in Glass are awesome

Please understand that U.S. state laws governing the use of Google Glass while driving remain murky as of this writing in 2014. Some states expressly forbid it, whereas other states have no opinion as yet.

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