Google Glass: A four-app wish list

Maybe I shouldn’t be amazed by technology anymore. We have cars that drive themselves, warm robotic voices that suddenly emerge from the clouds to answer questions, massive worlds contained in little devices that we store in our pockets. I mean, technology is unbelievable today.

Yet, Google Glass blows my mind. Everything about it.

Taking pictures and uploading them to the Internet just by blinking … WHAT!?!?

We are still in Glass’ infancy, and there are many bumps to smooth down before the product gains any real traction in the marketplace. I can see three primary questions that need to be answered before anyone other than extreme tech junkies purchase Glass and use the spectacles in everyday life:

1) So, this is cool … what the hell do I do with it?

2) $1,500 … are you NUTS?

3) Wait … don’t these look kind of lame?

This picture doesn’t help that last question:

But if you take a little time to understand Glass, the product – or at least the idea behind the first version of the product – is fascinating. You can get bits of information, weather updates, stock reports and make phone calls literally without moving or looking down at a screen.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Glass rose out of a Google engineers meeting in which someone posed the question, “If I was forever stuck in a straightjacket, how could I still interact with the world?” (And if that’s true, may your higher power bless all of you at Google.)

I haven’t seen Glass first-hand, but Jeremy Kaplan spent 18 hours with it and then wrote about the experience.

And to see Glass put into use, here’s a good demo from the folks at Tech Crunch:

Last week at Google’s developers conference, the company announced seven new apps will soon be featured on Glass, including Twitter, breaking news from CNN and fashion from Elle. Courtesy of the New York Times’ awesome Bits blog, here’s a post on the new app additions.

These new apps join Path and The New York Times, which were the only two apps previously available on Glass. It seems apps will be the tools that lend practicality to Glass and eventually make it a functional toy in our daily routines – just like apps have done with smartphones and other mobile products – but Google, for now, is controlling the app flow to its Internet glasses. As the Bits blog details, Google doesn’t want to simply transfer mobile apps to Glass; it wants developers to design apps specifically for this tiny screen you wear on your face.

As the Bits blog notes, Google has four instructions for developers: “keep it short and sweet for the small screen, make sure alerts are relevant, send timely information people need on the go and make tasks easier and more seamless than they are on other devices.”

So if Google is in the very early stages of designing apps for Glass, I suppose it would be open to “app wish lists.” I have four ideas, keeping Google’s four instructions in mind:

1) Instagram

Some variation of this service seems like a natural fit for Glass. You can already take photos with one blink. Suppose you then use the universal Glass command – “OK, Glass” – to call up the app: “OK Glass, Instagram.”

Your photo is then sent to Instagram at which point you select a filter. You can sort through the filters by swiping your index finger on the side of Glass’ frame, like the product is designed for. Once you choose a filter, you say, “OK Glass, done.” And then Glass uploads the new picture to your Instagram feed.

2) 10-second sports highlights

I’m a Lakers fan walking around the Santa Monica Pier, and I want to know what just happened at Staples Center. I don’t want the whole highlight or even most of the highlight. I want to see only the most important clip(s) from that game and a final score, since I’m on the move and I can always read or watch more about the game later when I get home.

Enter my personalized 10-second reel: Two sweet Steve Nash assists; a Dwight Howard alley-oop; Kobe’s buzzer-beater; a brief shot of the Lakers mobbing him in celebration; a final screen that shows the score. If you had to tell a story in pictures and had only 10 seconds, how would you do it? That’s what I want delivered to Glass.

3) Voice-automated Open Table

“OK Glass, lunch options.”

Glass brings up Open Table.

“Mexican.”

Glass eliminates all other choices.

“Walking distance.”

Glass further narrows the search to a reasonable radius from where you are.

“No wait.”

Glass narrows the search again to only restaurants with tables open right now.

“Is this good?”

Glass shows you a graphic that 75 percent of customers “recommend” [enter chosen lunch spot].

“OK Glass, let’s go.”

Glass shows you directions.

4) Google Sights

I made up the name, but here’s how it works: You’ve never been to San Francisco and now you’re in town for 48 hours for business. You have five hours to kill one afternoon before attending a scheduled dinner. So what should you do?

Google Sights categorizes and rates different activities and things to see in the city that you’re in. Using voice commands, you can give Glass some directions, such as “outdoors” or “history” or “coffee shop” or “art” or whatever. If you know nothing about the city and don’t have any ideas in mind, simply say, “OK Glass, recommendations?” And Glass will then tell you that, if you’re in San Francisco, you might want to see the Golden Gate bridge or visit Ghirardelli Square.

As mentioned in the Tech Crunch demo above, one limiting factor for Glass currently is battery life. Shooting video and using navigation apps can drain it rather quickly. That’s obviously a concern, as it usually is in the first iterations of any new mobile product.

And, of course, I didn’t consider rights or trademark issues or any matters of legality (the brainstorming part of business is fun!)

But if the brilliant folks at Google can come up with a mobile product for people in straightjackets, I’m confident they can overcome the burdens of logistics and battery life.

Email: tmitrosilis@gmail.com Twitter: @TMitrosilis

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