Google Glass: everything you need to know

Google Glass is here: but should you shell out for the £1,000 augmented reality smart glasses?

Here, we round up the latest news about Google Glass, to help you decide whether the glasses are right for you, to track the best apps and reveal the latest places that have banned the smart headsets.

Are you considering buying Google Glass? Let us know in the comments below. If you’ve got a pair already, let us know how useful you find them – and the best apps you discover.

Click here to read our in-depth Google Glass review

Latest news

10 July: London startup controls Google Glass by reading your mind

London startup This Place is using EEG monitors from NeuroSky to control Google Glass by scanning your brainwaves. Using the MindRDR app alongside a brainwave monitor, you can control Glass by concentrating or relaxing. Wearers will see a horizontal line that sits in the middle of the screen which moves up the more they concentrate and down the more they relax. Once the line reaches the top of the screen Google Glass will take a photo.

You can see how our sister title IT Pro enjoyed the challenge in its “minds-on” review of MindRDR.

June 3: New designer Google Glass headsets revealed

Google revealed a range of designer Google Glass headsets, made alongside American designer Diane von Furstenberg. Dubbed DVF | Made for Glass, the range consists of five new frames and eight shades in two styles, and are available in the US at Net-a-Porter and Google’s Play store.

25 February: Google lobbying against laws banning Glass while driving

Google is lobbying US politicians in at least three states to stop proposed restrictions on driving with headsets such as Google Glass.

Some eight US states are considering regulation of Google Glass, as law enforcement and other groups are concerned that drivers wearing the devices will pay more attention to their email than the road, causing serious accidents.

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Google Glass price and how to buy

Google Glass landed in the UK at the end of June, after being available for several months in the US first. Here, the glasses cost a rather substantial £1,000 – a lot for what remains a beta product, which teardowns suggest only costs $80 in components.

Google Glass is only available from the Google Play store. At the time of writing, the devices were staying in stock, quoting only a day or two to ship. Our experience in ordering suggests you’ll need to wait three or four working days.

They come in black, grey, white, blue or orange. When you purchase, you get the Glass Explorer Edition, which is a Star-Trek style headset without any actual glasses.

Google Glass Explorer Edition

You can add standard frames – with or without prescription – for free at the moment, though they normally cost £175. They come in a variety of styles and colours, and you can also buy sunglasses.

The other purchasing option is the Google Glass Earbuds, which connect directly into the headset. They cost £65 for a pair for each ear. The device comes with a single ear mono earbud designed to make taking calls easier.

Google Glass Earbuds

Google Glass specs and features

Google Glass runs Android 4.4 – aka KitKat – and features 16GB of flash storage, of which 12GB is usable. It has a single micro USB port, a 5MP camera that also takes 720p video. The Explorer Edition weighs 43g.

Google promises one day of battery life, but admits video recording will drain the power faster.

The display is the interesting bit: it projects the content into your field of vision – sort of like there’s a small TV in front of you everywhere you go. Google said it’s the equivalent of a 25in high-def screen seen from a distance of eight feet.

Google Glass compatible devices

You can use Google Glass with an Android or iOS device, but not Windows Phone. You’ll need to download the MyGlass app, which is free.

That app is supported on any device running Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above or iPhone iOS 7 and above.

However, you can also use Glass as a Bluetooth headset if your phone is Bluetooth compatible, but you’ll require the MyGlass app to use any of the advanced features.

You can also add Glass to your wireless network.

Where you can use Google Glass – and can’t

One of the most high-profile businesses to roll out Google Glass is Virgin Atlantic, which is using the device and smartwatches to help Upper Class passengers at Heathrow check in and receive flight information.

Virgin said Google Glass could help staff recognise passengers and automatically know their drink preferences for more personal service.

Virgin Checkin with Google Glass

The could also end at the office: Google and Citrix are both working on apps to bring Google Glass to the workplace, including apps to share files, take notes, and a version of help-desk management tool GoToAssist.

Google Glass isn’t welcome everywhere, though. It’s been banned in several bars in the US, with patrons irritated by the potential to be videoed, and UK cinemas have asked customers not to wear them at the movies.

What happened when we used Google Glass during our lunch break

We’re fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have the Google Glass headset in the office, and being dedicated tech journalists, we decided to see how this device would affect us while performing everyday tasks.

Take a look at Darien Graham-Smith’s blog: How Google Glass ruined his lunch hour to find out more.

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