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Google Takes a Bite Out of Apple

The verdict is in: Google Glass is the future. 

"What’s it actually like to have Glass on? To use it when you’re walking around? Well, it’s kind of awesome," wrote Josh Topolsky, editor in chief of technology site The Verge.

Glass has received many other positive reviews as well. Those who have tried it likened Glass to “wearing” the Internet. Glass is a wearable device worn over both eyes that makes use of voice commands to navigate among the different features.

While search is its primary function, Glass comes with without touch screen or key pad. The device allows wearers to surf the Internet hands-free. For example, you could orally ask Glass to find Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) earnings. The mini screen would display articles about recent financial results, including various financial metrics, for Google.

In addition to the search capability, Glass can also record videos. In fact, it can stream exactly what you’re seeing to Google+.

Google is so excited about this new piece of hardware that the company wants to open specialized retail stores. Sound familiar? Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) took the same approach many years ago.

But while Google has built a groundbreaking gadget and is considering retail locations, the similarities to Apple end there. Glass clearly isn’t for everyone – definitely not in the way an iPod, iPad or iMac is.

Many experts are clinging to Glass because the technology world hasn’t released many new gadgets recently. The iPad is the most recent “big new device” or “adult toy” to hit stores … and that was more than three years ago. Because there hasn’t been a new plaything to talk about, technology critics are willing to overlook the many flaws of Glass.

For instance, Glass doesn’t come cheap. Like many technology products, the price will come down over time. However, Glass is likely to carry a $1,000 price tag for a while.

Also, the battery life is terrible. Since these are glasses, and something you’ll be wearing constantly, the product must have a good battery life. Testers report that Glass currently has about a 3.5-hour charge. That’s not going to cut it.

People have said that it’s disorienting, too. Constantly switching between Glass features and real life makes it hard to focus, and has given people headaches (literally). The screen is also difficult to see at times, especially in sunlight.

A final commonly mentioned issue – which Google will fix – is the buggy voice command. Some testers report that they have to repeat voice commands a few times, while others say Glass picks up on other people’s conversations and interprets that as a command. Since you don’t use your hands, the voice feature is important.

Google Glass may be the way of the future, but it’s certainly not a product for the present. I like Google. In fact, it’s my favorite company. So I’m not bad-mouthing them. Furthermore, as a shareholder, I’m pleased that they are taking risks and trying to build a game-changing device.

However, at the current time, Apple dominates hardware while Google dominates search. Their paths will meet in the future, and it’s unclear who will win … and perhaps they will both play in the same sandbox at the same time. For now, they are both great companies but for completely different reasons.

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