By now we all know how Google Glass works, at least as far as putting it on your head and transmitting information from device to user. But the real functionality lies in the software.

Voice commands

I’m sure you’ve all seen the videos showing off the ease in which users can direct Google Glass to perform certain actions. This is the core of the Google Glass experience, voice commands will be the main way to get things done. All of the most common actions you’re likely to undertake using Google Glass can all be accomplished through the use of voice commands. All the tasks start with the phrase “ok glass”, followed by whatever you’d like Google Glass to do.

Google Glass Voice Commands

Pictures and video can already be captured with the dedicated button, but if you’re feeling too lazy to reach up to eye level you can always just issue a voice. “Ok glass, take a picture” will take a quick snapshot and display a preview of it, whilst “ok glass, record a video” will start a 10 second video capture. Longer videos can be recorded by tapping the touchpad and selecting “extend” from the menu.

By now I’m sure you get the idea, but there are quite a few more commands to go through. “Ok glass, get directions to” will open up the navigation tool, providing you’ve synced up Google Glass using the My Glass app. You can navigate to specific places, or use the local search type feature to find nearby businesses. The touchpad is used to scroll through the available results and to switch between walking or biking directions.

Google Glass Navigation

Ok glass, send a message to” and “make a call to” are pretty self explanatory. Providing you’ve set everything up with the My Glass app and are connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth you’ll have full access to SMS and mobile calls.

For Google+ users there’s also the handy “ok glass, hang out with” feature, which will start a Google+ Hangout with your specified friend. And finally there’s “ok Glass, Google”. Those familiar with Google Now will probably already have a feel for how the search functions works, where simple questions can be posed to the device and certain answers will receive a spoken or card response, whilst others will return a web result.

Android/Google Now

Those of you with smartphones or tablets running Jelly Bean are no doubt familiar with the ever so convenient Google Now, which is also the basis for Google Glass’s information on demand feature. Rather than having to ask for specific pieces of information, Google Glass can and will occasionally display small cards of relevant information depending on when it thinks you’ll need it.

Google Now

At this time, Google Now Glassware includes calendar appointments, flight information (if you have Gmail and web history enabled), places, sports results, stocks prices, and weather forecasts and updates.

Google Now works on Google Glass due to the fact that it’s running Android. Although we don’t know exactly which version, I suppose it’s going to be Jelly Bean at least. This also means that developers should have an easier time creating and adapting existing apps for use with Google Glass.

Timeline Cards

All of the actions done and received by Google Glass are placed in a timeline, which works as the main interface when interacting with Glass. Similar to the changes made to Facebook a while back, any pictures you take, calls you miss, and notifications you receive will all be recorded in chronological order for you to review if need be. Swiping the touchpad from the homepage will allow you to move forward and backward in time through your history.

This way you can go back and share pictures you’ve taken previously, and find previous notifications, translations, or cards based on the order in which they were received. Here’s a video showing some of the functions which can be performed using cards:


There’s also a bunch of other clever software features which help make Google Glass more practical. There’s the “head wake” setting which will wake up the display by tilting your head rather than having to press the touchpad. You can even specify how far you can tilt before the headset wakes up. “On head detection” will activate Glass when it senses you’ve put it on, there’s features for allowing guests to use the device, and probably tons of other stuff hidden away.

Phew, I think that’s finally everything. If you stuck through that information overload, hopefully you now have a full insight into Google Glass and now know what to expect if you ever find yourself owning a pair. Now we just have to wait another year before we can test all this out for ourselves.

Robert Triggs

Lead Technical Writer covering SoCs, displays, cameras, and everything in between. In his spare moments you’ll find him building audio gadgets.