It either looks futuristic or slightly ridiculous, depending on your point of view, but Google Glass has a good claim to the world's first proper wearable computer. See also: our full Google Glass review and The 5 best places to wear Google Glass, the 5 worst places to wear Google Glass - and one on which we can't decide
Although you can buy it for a whopping £1,000, it’s still a work in progress. So you’re unlikely to go and buy one, but we did just that so we could find out what it’s like to own and use Glass in the UK.
You can get Glass in five different colours, and there’s a range of frames so you can get prescription lenses fitted, or use them as sunglasses. And, unlike the ‘framless’ version we have here, the glasses version looks a bit more normal.
There’s a ‘prism projector’ which displays a tiny screen in front of your eyes and you control it using voice commands or by touching the thin strip along the right-hand side of the frame.
But what does Google Glass do? It works in tandem with your smartphone so you can check email, post to social media, take photos and videos, search Google and get directions.
Glass doesn't offer anything that your smartphone can't do already. In fact, it does far less than the average smartphone. You can't create calendar events, set alarms, dictate notes, or compose or read documents on Glass.
However, it does feel like you’re in a sci-fi movie when you hear a ping, look up and see a breaking news video playing in front of your eyes.
It takes a while to get use to wearing Google Glass. It’s just as light as a regular pair of glasses and when you’re looking around normally, you don't see it at all. You won’t notice it or feel it, yet it’s sturdy and stays in place even when playing sports.
When you activate Glass by tapping on the side or tilting your head back, you can see the display by looking upwards. Even though it’s over your right eye, the display appears in the centre of your vision and is see-through.
Glass works well when on foot or cycling and it’s so easy to take photos and videos without using your hands. It’s a bit distracting when driving and using Glass to get directions as you get a ping every time you approach a junction, and the display lights up showing you where to go. It doesn’t stay on constantly as that would drain the battery too fast.
Although you can watch videos and browse websites, the display is more for flashing up snippets of information.
Saying “ok glass” brings up a list of options such as “Get directions to," “send a message to," “take a photo” and “record video." As you install extra apps the list of options grows. We found the voice recognition accuracy way better than Siri.
Glass returns a lot of information directly from search, so you can ask Google what the weather’s going to be like, or to perform a calculation and it will speak out the results.
Audio comes from a headphone which uses bone conduction to transmit sound directly to the inner ear. It’s very quiet though, and only practical for alerts and for making phone calls in quiet places. When you’re outside, you’ll need to use the earpiece.
If you don't want to use voice control, you can access all options by tapping and sliding along the Touchpad. You slide your finger to move through the menu, tap once to select something, and swipe your finger downwards (towards your feet) to move back.
A two-finger tap and hold gesture allows you to move up and down a web page by looking up and down. It’s a nice idea, but Glass’s display doesn't lend itself to reading long articles.
Google Glass review: companion device
You’ll need to pair Glass via Bluetooth with your Android phone or iPhone. Then you can make and receive phone calls and, if you have an Android phone, send and receive text messages.
There aren’t all that many apps available in the dedicated app store. When you find an app you like, simply tap the switch to On. There’s no syncing or installation process, the app just appears in the list and opens when you select it.
An example is Word Lens which translates foreign signs as you look at them (the only downside is that you have to hold still while it works).
Google Glass review: verdict
If nothing else, Google Glass is interesting. Not since the original iPhone have we had so many people want to talk about it, use it, or know more about it. People who aren't even normally interested in tech find Glass intriguing.
Unless you have a specific reason or vested interest in owning Glass, you are almost certainly better off buying an Android Wear smartwatch instead and waiting for Google to finish Glass development and sell you the finished product for around £300. It may even be out later this year.