Google Glass Updated With Improved Voice Features

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-07-02

Google Glass Updated With Improved Voice Features

Google Glass is getting improved and expanded voice command capabilities under a new monthly software update being sent out to early Google Glass users.

The update will allow Glass users to do more things without having to touch any Glass controls, and it will allow users to communicate more easily with family members and friends in their contacts list, according to a July 1 post on the Google Glass page on Google+.

"This month we're powering up the voice experience, taking our first steps on the web and helping you communicate better with the people you care about," said the post. "Now with Glass you can get things done without having to lift a finger. Let's say your friend texts you. You can now say 'ok glass, read aloud' to hear it and answer with 'ok glass, reply.' Mom calling? Just say 'ok glass, answer call.' Boyfriend away on business? Send that selfie straight away with 'ok glass, share with Felix.'"

In addition, the new Glass update is making it easier to send messages to a user's closest friends and family by simply tapping to send a message or make a phone call to any of the user's Gmail contacts, according to the post. "When you tap on 'send a message to...' from the main menu, you swipe through your contacts' profile photos and tap to send a message." 

Another improved capability for Glass users is a new way for users to quickly dive deeper in searches to get exactly the information they need, right when they need it, according to the post. "To test it out, search for something and then tap on the 'View website' screen to bring up the web page."

Once the user is on the desired page, he can explore more in-depth searches by scrolling forward on the touchpad with a finger to scroll downward, or he can zoom by sliding two fingers forward or backward, according to the post. To "look around," users can now move two fingers downward on the touchpad and then move their head around to pan and click when they see what they are seeking. "As you look around, you can tap to select anything in the center of the screen."

The updates will be rolling out automatically to Glass devices over the next couple days, according to Google. More information about other Glass improvements in the new update is available in the Glass Help Center.

Google Glass Updated With Improved Voice Features

This is the third software update so far for Glass. In June, Glass got a big upgrade for its camera, with the release of new software that now better detects low-light situations and includes automatic High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) photo-taking capabilities.

The camera update allows users to capture a rapid sequence of shots behind the scenes every time they press the camera button so they can choose from the images to get the best photo. That improvement is especially aimed at images taken in low light. The camera software update detects low-light situations and automatically captures a brighter, sharper picture, while HDR will now automatically be used to take pictures in bright scenes. Also included in the update is a screen that invites users to add a caption to their photographs.

The first software update for Glass arrived back in May when features such as incoming Google+ notifications for users were added. Also included in that first Glass XE5 software update was crash reporting for the devices, increased speed for transcription of queries and messages, and the inclusion of international number dialing and Short Message Service (SMS).

The first Google Glass units began shipping in April to developers who signed up at last June's Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development, where it was the hit of the conference. Google also then began shipping Glass units to lucky users who were selected in a contest for the opportunity to buy their own early versions of Glass. In February, Google expanded its nascent test project for its Glass eyewear-mounted computer by inviting interested applicants to submit proposals for a chance to buy an early model and become part of its continuing development. In March, Google also began notifying a pool of applicants who were selected to purchase the first 8,000 sets of Google Glass when they become available for real-world use and testing later this year by consumers. Those selected applicants have been receiving their units in waves.

Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also boast a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers that were revealed in earlier reports.

Google Glass isn't yet ready for the general public, but sales of the devices are now expected to begin sometime later this year, according to a recent eWEEK report. That's at least months earlier than the 2014 retail debut the company had been targeting since last year, a source inside Google told eWEEK. The source would not elaborate on why the retail launch schedule is being moved up.

The concept of Google Glass has been a hit so far for Google, but some critics argue that they continue to be worried about the privacy implications surrounding the use of Glass, which is an eyewear-mounted computer that features a still camera, a video cam and other real-time recording features.

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