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Why I'm sending back Google Glass

By Matt Lake
May 21, 2014 06:30 AM ET

8. Oh, that earbud

On the plus side: You can listen to all the music at Google Play.

On the other hand: Only as long as the earbud stays in your ear.

Google Glass earbud
Glass requires you to use a proprietary earbud that doesn't fit well. Credit: Julia Lake.

Google Glass's audio system is quite well engineered and taps into your own music library at Google Play. But its earbud options are limited and proprietary and don't appear to be designed for the human ear.

What's more, they use the same port that Glass uses to recharge its batteries -- and if you're going to stream music, you'll be hard-pressed to get through Beethoven's Ninth without at least one recharge. And Beethoven doesn't sound right buzzing behind your right ear through the tinny built-in speaker.

9. Explorer envy

On the plus side: Google Glass Explorers climb mountains, cycle extreme trails and lead virtual tours of the Large Hadron Collider -- all with Glass video running.

On the other hand: You don't do those things.

Google Glass office photo
Everyday activities aren't that interesting when recorded with Glass. Credit: Matt Lake.

When I look at stories of how people use technology, I'm usually inspired to think of how I can use them. But looking at Glass Explorer stories just makes me feel inadequate about my daily life.

It's not that my job is boring -- far from it -- it's just that Google Glass makes it look that way. Because like many absorbing and interesting jobs, it's not appealing in a flashy, visual way.

10. Too little, too soon

On the plus side: It's in the vanguard of a future class of wearable computers.

On the other hand: The future isn't the present.

On reflection, I was probably never a good candidate for an early Glass adopter. I'm still more comfortable typing than texting. I am not an app developer.

And many of the vertical selling points touted by enthusiasts seemed a bit of a stretch to me. (Example: E-learning booster InformED suggests that in a classroom, SMS messages from confused students could appear in the instructor's Glass. Because raising a hand and asking a question hasn't been invented yet.)

Even major Google buffs (and Google itself) limit Glass Explorers' expectations: Although it can be valuable in some niches and might someday be more broadly useful, for now Glass is a far cry from having the universal appeal of most Google products and services.

Matt Lake can usually carry off the extreme geek look. He has been enthusiastically using and writing about technology since "portable computing" meant a 35-pound Compaq 8088 luggable and the most popular search engine was grep.

Read more about Emerging Technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.



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