Users lucky enough to get their hands on the Google Glass Explorer Edition, the test version of the Google’s highly anticipated smart glasses, continue to find flaws with the device. One developer pointed out significant privacy and security vulnerabilities with Google Glass, while others have noted minor gripes like being unable to send messages with adult language. But a new report showed that Google Glass is essentially unusable, and even dangerous, when operating a vehicle. It could prove devastating to Google's eventual public release date for Glass, which is being advertised as the ultimate hands-free mobile device.
The Verge’s Sean Hollister decided to test out Google Glass on a drive from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to the San Jose Airport, and couldn’t give it a very good review. After turning a smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot and tethering it to Google Glass, Hollister tried to use Google Maps to get directions to the airport.
While the navigation worked well, the display on Google Glass just wasn’t bright enough to see the directions while looking out the car window. Hollister had to either glance up at the ceiling of the car or put a hand behind the display cube in order to see. Neither are safe options when operating a vehicle at 65 mph.
To make a call on Google Glass, a user must add a contact from Gmail on a separate computer. This meant it was impossible to make a call in the car without having already synced the number. Hollister said answering calls was easy enough, but that the speaker on Google Glass wasn’t loud enough to hear the call over the noise of the road.
Other features on Google Glass were limited. To take a picture with Glass, you have to look directly at whatever you are photographing, so the only safe Google Glass photography would be pictures of the actual road you're driving on. Hollister reported that the ability to actually do a Google search for information on Google Glass was very minimal.
With some more development, a better display and an integrated cell modem, Google Glass has the potential to become an excellent hands-free tool. For now, it’s just not there.
These points against Google Glass may not matter. Google Glass has already been banned by some bars and strip clubs, and legislators in West Virginia are already taking steps toward legislation updating texting-while-driving bans to include Google Glass. By the time the device's release date arrives, it may not be legal to use in cars.