Glass is a new device and platform for people to use the technology they know and love. While Glass is currently a test device and not widely available to consumers, there are a lot of questions out there about Glass and what it does. We thought it would be helpful to share some common questions we hear from people in the hope that it helps those who are interested in learning more about Glass understand the device a bit better.

Here are some quick links to get you to the questions you have fast:

General Glass questions

Glass Specs questions

Glass Security & Privacy questions

Glass Software questions

Glass frames and shades

General Glass Questions

Q: So what exactly is Glass?

A: Let’s start with thinking of a pair of glasses. From there imagine a lightweight frame and tiny display that rests neatly above your eyes that makes exploring and sharing the world around you faster and easier.  

Q: What’s the vision behind Glass?

A: Technology has made tremendous leaps in the last ten years but for many of us it’s taken up more and more of our lives.

Our vision behind Glass is to put you back in control of your technology by giving you a simple, elegantly designed hands-free device that’s on only when you need it and off when you don’t.

Q: It seems like Glass will make people more dependent on technology than ever before?

A: Each person is different, but Glass is not designed to be an immersive or distracting experience, and it’s certainly not augmented reality. In fact, the screen is inactive by default. This is the result of a lot of specific software and hardware design decisions that put you, not the device, at the center of the experience. Paradoxically, many people actually report that after several weeks of wearing Glass they find themselves using technology less and far more efficiently because they get only the information they want, exactly when they want it, and then get on with their day.

Q: What does Glass do?

A: Glass does a lot.  Everything from maps, voice search, and video calls to email, calendar, Google Now and photos are all packed into a tiny hands-free device that’s on when you need it and off when you don’t. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the main ways people are using it:

Search - Whether it’s translating a phrase into another language, or getting the solution to a tough math problem, Glass gets you the answers you want to the questions you ask it almost instantly (watch this video for some fun examples of search on Glass).

Navigation - Glass will give you turn-by-turn directions to help you find the fastest route to your destination.

Gmail and Calendar - Gmail and Calendar are both available on Glass making checking email, or seeing when your next appointment is quick and easy.

Now cards - From the latest traffic update to work, to that delay in your flight, Google Now is about giving you just the right information at just the right time. On Glass it’s faster and easier than ever before.

Phone Calls & SMS - By connecting via bluetooth to your phone, Glass lets you easily and quickly call your contacts. It’s also great for speech-to-text transcription, making texting as fast as well... talking.

Photos, Videos and Video calls - Technology should bring people closer together by connecting us in the real world, not taking us out of it. Glass does this by letting you capture and share great moments without ever having to leave them.

Q: Why make a smart device that’s wearable?

A: Today, most people would likely agree that they take out their cell phone too many times. Again, Glass puts you in control of technology by giving you a simple, elegantly designed hands-free experience that’s there only when you need it and off when you don’t.

Q: So does Glass cover your eye?

A: No. The Glass screen is positioned just above your right eye. That’s by design for a couple of reasons: First, making eye contact with people is critical, and Glass should connect you with the people you care about, not get in the way or add a layer between you and another person. Second, Glass shouldn’t be distracting. By having the screen off by default and above your eye we keep distractions at a minimum 

Q: Can I use Glass while driving or bicycling? 

A: As you probably know, most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Explorers should read up and follow the law. Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road. The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful.

Q: I keep hearing about Glass Explorers. Who are they and how many of them are there?

A: We started the Glass Explorer program in June of 2012 when around 2,000 developers signed up at our developer conference, Google I/O. All of these Explorers have been sent an invitation for their device. We then expanded our Explorer program to include a more diverse group of 8,000 people through our #ifihadglass campaign.  From tennis pros at Wimbledon to moms capturing their child growing up, these are people who are using Glass in everyday life. We’re still in the process of sending invitations out to these Explorers. We've also been experimenting with other ways to bring Explorers into the program.

Q: Is Glass available internationally? If not, when will it be?

A: No, Glass is only available in the US and UK and we’re focused on these markets right now.

Q: Where do Explorers get Glass today?

A: Glass is unprecedented technology, so we wanted to create an unprecedented experience for our Explorers purchasing Glass. After receiving an invitation, Explorers can purchase and pick up their Glass in one of three locations: San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York. We call these places Basecamps, and Explorers picking up their device can expect to spend about an hour there. This includes a fitting for the device by one of our Guides, a walk-through of all the different features, how to use it and the various security settings.

Q. Is it OK for Explorers to try and sell their devices online? Will you disable the devices if they do this?

A: The Explorer program is about taking Glass out in the world and seeing what's possible with the technology. We hope our Explorers are excited to do just that. While it's against our terms of service to sell your device, we don't plan on disabling any Explorer's device.  

Q: When will Glass be available to all consumers?

A: Our goal is to make Glass available to a wider and wider group of Explorers, with even broader availability down the road so stay tuned.

Q: I hear that Glass is going on tour, is that true? A: Yes, Glass is going to cities across the US this fall and we'll kick things off in Raleigh/Durham, NC on Saturday, October 5, with a public open house at the American Tobacco Campus. Read more about it here. We'll visit more US cities in the coming months and will announce each of them on Google+ so please stay tuned.

Glass Specs Questions

Q: So what does the screen look like?

A: When you activate the screen it looks a lot like a 25 inch color TV floating about 8 feet in front of you.

Q: What are the technical specs of Glass?

A: While there have been teardowns of the device, we prefer not to release too many specs. Why? Because we believe this technology is more about the person and how he or she uses it, than the hardware and software. All specs that we do release can be found here.

Q: Is Glass heavy?

A: Nope, not at all. Glass weighs a little over 40 grams, which is about the weight of a pair of sunglasses, or about a third of what your smartphone weighs.

Q: Does Glass have any storage capability?

A: Glass has a little over 16 GB of available flash memory. This includes storage of information that helps with making the device work, such as software libraries and application information. The flash memory can also be used to store photos and video, to ensure those moments are saved even when Glass does not have an Internet connection.

Q: What about people who wear prescription lenses?

A: Glass is designed to be modular and extensible. Our team is currently working on frames that will allow you to add prescription lenses to Glass but they are not yet available to our Explorers.

Glass security & privacy

Q: Did you think about privacy concerns when you created Glass?

A: Absolutely. We know that new technology always raises new issues, so we’ve been thinking very carefully about how we design Glass from the beginning.

Q: What information does Glass collect about its users?

A: We’re all about keeping your information safe, secure and always available when you want it. People interested in our privacy policy can find it here. And we give you control over the information you share with Google. For example, when you take a photo or video with Glass, it will be added to your private Instant Upload album on Google+ but won’t be shared with anyone until you choose to do so.

Q: Is Glass recording video or taking pictures all the time?

A: No. Glass is really about capturing moments in your life — whether it’s a deer running past you on a hiking trail, a friend blowing out his birthday candles or a child’s first steps. The default video recording on Glass is set to 10 seconds. While you can record for longer, the battery life won’t allow for more than about 45 minutes of straight recording. There are many devices available on the market today for people who wish to record their entire day, but Glass simply is not one of them.

Q: What have you done to inform non-Glass users if a picture or video is being taken?

A: We have built explicit signals in Glass to make others aware of what’s happening. First, the device’s screen is illuminated whenever it’s in use, and that applies to taking a picture or recording a video. Second, Glass requires the user to either speak a command — “OK Glass, take a picture” or “OK Glass, record a video” — or to take an explicit action by pressing the button on the top of Glass’s frame. In each case the illuminated screen, voice command or gesture all make it clear to those around the device what the user is doing.

Q: I’ve heard Glass is being banned in some places. What’s going on with that?

A: Whether we’re talking about cell phones, tablets or wearable computers, it’s clear there are some places where using devices simply isn’t appropriate. For example, movie theaters don’t allow you to talk on your phone, and casinos don’t let you take photos with your phone. We fully expect the etiquette around wearable technology like Glass to evolve as well.

Q: Is Glass able to recognize the faces of people walking past?

A: No. Glass doesn’t do facial recognition, and we have no plans to add it. What’s more, our Developer Terms of Service don’t allow Glassware that does facial recognition or voice print.

Q: If I’m wearing Glass, does Google always know what I’m doing or seeing?

A: No, not at all. You’re in control. Glass allows you to choose what you experience, whether it’s Google services like Gmail and Maps or other third-party applications you choose to install from the MyGlass application on your mobile device.

Q: What information is shared with third-party application developers?

A: Before you add Glassware, you’ll see the device-level permissions that Glassware obtains when used with Glass. If you don’t feel comfortable with the permissions it requests, you can simply cancel installation.

Q: How does Glass protect users in the event that Glass is lost or stolen?

A: We take security very seriously, and we put simple but strong protections in place for Glass users. If a device is lost or stolen, you can use your Google account to sign into your MyGlass page--either via the web or the MyGlass app on your smartphone--and initiate a remote wipe of all data stored on Glass. You can also remotely turn off different Glassware (services written for Glass) like Gmail, Twitter and Google+ from your MyGlass page.  If the device is lost, you can use “remote location” to help you find it.  We are currently experimenting with several possible “lock” solutions for Glass to further protect users and will have something in place before a wider consumer launch.

Glass Software

Q: How often are you updating Glass’s software?

A: Our aim is to make Glass more awesome all the time with new software updates. So far some of those updates have included:

  • Better battery life

  • Improved photo quality

  • Birthday notifications

  • Improved voice transcription

  • Web browsing
  • Voice annotation on photos

Q: What is Glassware?

A: Glassware is what we call the services that developers build for Glass. Just like the applications you find on your smartphone, Glassware is available to install via a person’s MyGlass page.

Q: Who are some of the Glassware partners today?

A: We have announced nine Glassware partners today. They are Path, Evernote, CNN, New York Times, Twitter, Facebook, Elle, Field Trip and Tumblr.

Q: How many Glassware do you expect to have by the end of the year?

A: We’re not making any predictions, but one of the goals of our Explorer program is to get the device into the hands of developers who will build cool and amazing Glassware.

Q: What are some of the Glassware that you want to see built?

A: Everyone working on the Glass team has a different dream Glassware, but some of the things that excite us are Glassware that helps people with disabilities, fitness and training and even karaoke lyrics. What's great about creating a new computing platform though, is you know developers will always surprise you with incredible things you don’t expect.

Q: Can anyone build Glassware for Glass?

A: No. We feel very strongly that in order to build Glassware for Glass, you need to own the device, play with it and truly understand it. After all, Glass is such a new experience in its own right.

Q: Where can I find your Developer Policies and will they change over time?

A: You can find our policies here and yes, they will change over time. Part of having good, strong developer policies is to make sure that they evolve with the times.

Q: Can developers run ads on Glass?

A: No. Our Mirror API Terms of Service make it clear that you can not serve or include advertisements in the API Client.

Q: How do you prevent Glassware that violates your developer policies from making its way onto Glass and into the hands of consumers?

A: Right now there are only eight Glassware partners available in your MyGlass page. We will manually review each new Glassware before it’s added to MyGlass and made available to the wider Glass community.

Glass frames and shades

Q.  Why are you announcing these Glass frames?

A.  This marks the next phase in the evolution of Glass as we move towards a wider consumer launch later in 2014.  We started with five colors and an overall design that could fit a wide range of Explorers, their lifestyles and interests.  Today, we’re expanding our offering to a new group of Explorers, those who wear prescription glasses and enjoy sunglasses.  The four new Glass frames and three shades will give even more people the opportunity to make Glass their own.

Q. How do I get Glass frames to fit my prescription?

A. Nothing has changed how an Explorer gets Glass: either go to the Glass website at www.google.com/glass and click “How to get one” to join our interest list or be invited by a current Explorer to join the program.  Second, if you’ve ever needed prescription frames then the process for getting Glass frames will seem very familiar and we’ve laid it out in more detail below.

A Glass Explorer can select & purchase Glass frames that can accommodate prescription lenses in the accessories section of the Glass website. We have partnered with VSP (Vision Service Plan) to train Eye Care Professionals (ECPs) across the US on Glass and the prescription frames. Explorers can see the list of our Preferred ECPs during the ordering process (Explorers can however take your Glass frames to another ECP, not on this list, but the ones on the list have been trained on how to measure for, fit and use Glass).  Once an Explorer receives Glass either at a Basecamp or in the mail, he/she then take the device to an ECP who can cut and fit the prescription lenses for Glass.

If an Explorer has an eyeglass lens prescription issued in the last 12 months, they can take their new Glass frames, Glass itself, and their lens prescription to one of our preferred ECPs to have the frame outfitted with prescription lenses.  Your Glass unit does not need to be left with the ECP, while the frame does.  The ECP then contacts the Explorer when the new frames are ready and the Explorer returns to the ECP for a final fitting.  The Explorer needs to bring along the Glass device as the frames cannot be fitted without it.

If you do not have a recent lens prescription (issued within the previous 12 months), you will need to have your eyes examined on your first visit.

Q. How many different styles are there?

A. There are currently four styles of Glass frames.  You can see them at google.com/glass in the four styles (curve, thin, split and bold).  We looked at the industry and all the styles that people love.  Naturally we can't make hundreds of styles in this first collection, so we chose the four iconic styles that would resonate most with a wide range of people.

Q. And how many shades are now available?

A. There are three styles of shades: classic and edge are new, along with active which came with the existing Explorer edition of Glass.  

Q. Did the Google Glass team design these styles?

A. Yes.

Q. How much will the frames cost? And the shades?

A. Each Explorer edition of Glass comes with a free pair of frames or shades. For any additional ones, frames are $225 or £150, however, Explorers should check their health benefits to see if they’re reimbursable.  The shades are $150 or £120 each.

Q. How many Eye Care Professionals (ECPs) will be in this trained group?

A. Our partner, VSP, will be continuously training and bringing ECPs onboard to help fit Explorers in major cities.  While we don’t go into specific numbers, we’ve had trainings already in NY, SF, and LA and we’ll continue to expand on that in the months ahead.

Q. Will the Glass frames be covered by an Explorer’s insurance?

Google is in partnership with VSP Vision Care for VSP members and VSP eye care providers to receive reimbursement on Glass frames up to the frame allowance provided within their current vision benefit. The prescription lenses are also covered under the patients’ lens benefit offering through their VSP coverage.

Q. When will Glass be available to the wider public?

A. Starting last fall, we’ve been slowly expanding the Explorer program and we’ll continue to do that until our consumer launch down the road.