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Living with Google Glass: On the road

A batch of new apps for Google Glass make it a fun travel companion

Published: May 23, 2014 04:45 PM

This is the third in our Living With Glass series. Consumer Reports bought a pair ($1,500), and I’ll be using Glass over the next several weeks. We’ll even put it through some lab tests. It’s all about how the everywoman might use Google Glass. Read our past two installments in the series: "Getting Started" and "Calling on Glass."

When you travel, you want the ultimate portable device. The less you need to carry, the better. And the less you need to use your hands to take advantage of that ultimate portable device, the better.

At least, that’s what Google is betting. The company recently launched a host of travel apps to go with Google Glass, and they all work (mostly) hands-free on Google’s wearable device when you use voice commands.

I gave a few a try to see how they work.

Open Table

Walking around an unfamiliar town and hoping to make a dinner rez for later in the evening? Open Table for Glass lets you do that. Select “Make reservation” from the Glass menu, and from there you can either say the name of a restaurant that interests you (only those that participate in Open Table will show up) or just ask for a place “nearby.” I found a long list of local eateries to swipe through when I asked Open Table to look nearby. You don’t get a lot of info about the places on the list, other than a star rating and the number of reviews that were posted. That should at least help you determine whether it’s a reputable establishment. Tap to make a reservation. You can change the number of people, time, and date by swiping through those options.

For more on wearable tech, check our review of smart watches.

Field Trip

As you travel around town, or country, Field Trip lets you know what’s nearby that’s interesting in History, Art, Food, Architecture, Lifestyle, and Cool Stuff. The app uses blogs and other sources of information—especially those focused on the very local, like a food blogger from Amsterdam or an architecture expert in Chicago—to hook you up with what’s going on around you. As you get close to something of interest, you should get a notification. Tap for more information, or just go explore it for yourself. I compared what came up on the Field Trip app on my phone to what came up on the Glass app and found that I got fewer results on Glass, but hopefully it will catch up over time.

Foursquare

As interpreted for Google Glass, Foursquare is as stripped-down as possible. From the Glass menu, select “Check in.” A list of nearby places pops up. Swipe through, tap the one you’re visiting, and you get the option to “Check In.” Tap again and you’re done. Simple, but there’s also no opportunity to do anything else like provide a rating or post details. You can also select “Find place” from the Glass menu to locate restaurants, attractions, and other types of places you like to check into.

Word Lens

If you’re traveling in a foreign country and worried about being able to read road or shop signs, try Word Lens. Look at the sign, ask Glass to “Translate,” and a window will show up where you should center the words. Then tell Glass what language the words are in and what language you want them translated to. The words will show up on the sign in that language. For example, if you’re in Germany and you see a sign that says “Bahnhof,” ask Google to translate the German to English, and the word “Station” will show up in that Glass window. Everything on the sign looks the same, except the words are in your chosen language. Word Lens translates English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

—Donna Tapellini

   

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