Google Glass was a joke, but Apple’s smartglasses won’t be

In 2013, Google released Google Glass, $1,500 so-called smartglasses that quickly became the butt of jokes across America. The few Google Glass wearers were immedaitely dubbed “Glassholes.”

A Glasshole wears Google Glass, circa 2013
A Glasshole wears Google Glass, circa 2013

Johnny Davis for Esquire:

the $1,500 smart-glasses comprised of a tiny display screen mounted onto a flexible frame that incorporated a camera, a microphone and a computer. Like a Google phone, they could be voice-activated, using an “OK Glass…” command.

Some visionaries predicted that the ability to take photographs, check your email or start recording video, without having to pull out your phone, would be a gamechanger. Others thought people would make a spectacle of themselves. The naysayers won, no contest. Banned everywhere from cinemas to changing rooms, Google Glass became such a joke that even its parent company released its own parody video. The objections were many and obvious. But chief among them was that they made you look ridiculous.

Big Tech, however, was far from done with the idea…

If smart-glasses are going to be the next big thing, it may be down to one company to make that happen — Apple. Can it repackage existing tech into a piece of kit that proves irresistible, like it did with the iPod from MP3 players and its Apple Watch from fitness devices?

Overcoming the cultural challenge of persuading people to wear a computer on their faces is a big hurdle. But then, until recently, millions of people had given up on wearing a watch…

MacDailyNews Take: The number of Apple Watch users worldwide surpassed the 100 million mark in 2020, a mere five years after its release.

Apple’s AR smartglasses will obliterate that pace.

As with iPhone, Apple’s AR glasses will usher in a completely new age. Just as there is a clear delineation in time between “Before iPhone” and “After iPhone,” so, too, it shall be with Apple’s AR glasses.

As iPhone was to Nokia and Apple Watch is to Swatch, Apple Glasses will be to Ray-Ban et al.MacDailyNews, March 8, 2019

Once Apple’s augmented reality smartglasses are released, people are going to want to wear them during every waking hour.MacDailyNews, February 26, 2019

Someday, hopefully sooner than later, we’ll look back at holding up slabs of metal and glass to access AR as unbelievably quaint. — MacDailyNews, July 28, 2017

The impact of augmented reality cannot be overstated. It will be a paradigm shift larger than the iPhone and the half-assed clones it begat. — MacDailyNews, August 4, 2017

Augmented Reality is going to change everything.MacDailyNews, July 21, 2017

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[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Oh how I’ve missed ridiculing the not-ready-for-prime-time Glassholes. Apple’s take should be amazing and ready for prime time. High five to all my fellow Apple stock holders.

    1. Google’s attempt did not succeed because it tried to replace functions of a smartphone. Take photos and videos, project a tiny screen, voice commands, etc. That’s why it costs so much and looks silly. Before Watch, previous “smart” watches were mostly standalone products that did too little or tried to be a small Android phone with wristband (including built-in camera). Instead, Apple designed Watch to enhance the iPhone experience, not replace it, and Watch derives utility by being connected to iPhone. AirPods also enhance the iPhone experience.

      Glass (or whatever it’s called) will follow suit by being (first and foremost) an extension of the iPhone experience, not a standalone product. It doesn’t need to handle voice input or have microphone because user has on AirPods (or other headphones) with voice input into iPhone, which connects to and controls Glass. It lets iPhone handle the “heavy lifting” like Watch does. It doesn’t need a camera because that’s creepy and user can pull out iPhone to record video or take photo. It enhances (augments) the user’s built-in eyeballs, does not block vision with a tiny display. Glass is streamlined for its specific purpose, to work within Apple ecosystem of devices with iPhone at its center.

      Glass will help sell more iPhones, and iPhone will make Glass successful.

      1. Did I miss something? I thought the point of Apple Glass was that it was a visual device that used a camera as primary input for its AR functions. I think depending on the iPhone camera (probably worn on a headband) would be a worse solution.

        1. You’re probably right about that… But the purpose of camera will be to provide “telemetry” for the AR functionality, not to record 4K or HD video. It won’t be a feature. It’ll be small and discreet (a tiny dot), probably not capable of recording at all except in performing its AR duty, because Apple wants to avoid the privacy pushback (of Google Glass) from being able to record videos and photos covertly.

          1. I thought about maybe a system like what is used for FaceID but w/o a camera with autofocus, any hope for vision correction capabilities pretty much goes out the window. For a piece of eyewear, that may become a fatal flaw. Apple Glass may have to resort in that case to being basically the frame and specifying the shaping of the face-side glass on any corrective lens to accommodate the Smart glass functions.

            1. I think the focus of gen1 will be to implement AR in a way that is “must have” useful (highly desirable), in a product that is distinctive AND stylish. Like the focus of the first iPhone was to implement the multi-touch screen and interface in something people wanted to carry and show off. It only had the built-in apps, and its camera was almost an afterthought. Features like the current highly functional camera, large high-res screen, and extreme computing power evolved steadily over the iterations. Can’t get there if first version fails because it’s overly complex and too expensive.

  2. I remember the sense of anticipation leading up to the iPhone. Just announce it already!

    I’ve got the same sense of anticipation leading up to the the A-glasses and A-car.

    Just announce them already!

  3. Sorry, contrary to popular belief it seems, this will be a spendy toy in search of people who will get rapidly tired of trying to read the data on their glasses.. or perhaps walking into walls, doors or traffic..

    This is no better than super spendy VR headsets that have no real market either,, While perhaps its cool for a few minutes, after that, its over… just IMHO

    1. I think it will have to be really lightweight in order to be popular. As it is, normal prescription glass wearers can relate to anyone the problems of wearing heavy lenses for any extended period of time.

  4. A main objection to these kind of devices back then – and very much including MDN-staff too – are deep concerns regarding privacy, decency, recording and picture capabilities, recognition capabilities, and so on.

    I don’t see why these concerns would just somehow disappear when Apple also makes such a device. Yes, it will be sleek, intuitive etc, but it also faces the exact same concerns.

    Wear Apple glasses in the sports locker room of my children, and you can record what I will be doing to you until both you and those Apple glasses are well and profoundly smashed…

    These kind of devices will be forbidden to wear in a lot of public spaces, and rightly so. Nothing will change there.

      1. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        I don’t see anything in Amdt1 that would prevent lawmakers from prohibiting spyglasses in public places. Do you?

        Don’t be so gullible about Apple. A free people shouldn’t allow Facebook, Google or Apple to use always-scanning devices to steal personal information. You know very well that all these companies want to use crowdsourcing to track you, your location, the facial ID of everyone you know, etc. Those glasses will also be on when you use an ATM, look at your computer screen, type in a code, etc. Even if Apple claims so, just wait for the waves of malware or bad actors inside Apple to attempt to access your eyeglass cam. Public location or not, the individual needs to have legal protection against the creepy expansion of Big Tech spyware. That includes Apple.

        You were shocked that Apple would even consider scanning your photo album. With its brand of Glasshole device, Apple could scan everything you look at real time, whether you snapped a photo or not.

      2. Well, aside from the basically mere technical point that I am European and not American, I would assume from an American 1st amendment perspective that one does not have the right to secretly record, picture, recognize or track other people with stealth devices, without people knowing about it, let alone consenting with it.

        Those glass devices to me look more like hindrances and sheer obstacles to a decent life, liberty and happiness, which are not attainable without equal amounts of privacy.

        Privacy, personal space and such I would (like to) think would be protected under the American constitution – if not in direct writing than surely in spirit – and not disregarded.

        1. Fourth Amendment

          The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

          That’s the extent of privacy you get. Protection from the government, not the public domain. Stepping outside is in the public domain.

          1. Also to be noted is every Amendment is still specifically a restriction on government powers and has no direct bearing on the actions of individuals or non-government organizations. Other laws have to be legislated for the latter groups. Till then “The Kingsmen” and “The Statesmen” are free to do their spying. LOL

          2. The biggest flaw in the US Constitution is that it failed to foresee the rise of political parties and their owners, corporations. The Constitution placed some well intended limits on government power, a groundbreaking move at the time which has proven a superior way to coordinate society & peacefully transition leaders. But technology marches on, and the old parchment today does a shit poor job restraining the overreach of entities that are now more powerful and technologically obtuse than any government, led by unelected officers (or foreign agents), operating globally with the specific intent to exploit citizens of all countries. The war of oligarchs over the working classes hasn’t been even close to a fair fight, the individual never stood a chance, ni matter how nice the Constitution sounds. Lack of regulation has caused the most extreme concentration of wealth for the few since JP Morgan himself was literally calling the shots behind the scenes in D.C. If you can’t see how the modern oligarchs have tilted everything even more to their benefit today, then you must be as braindead as Hal/Dean Clark/botvinnik. Whining about the other party is exactly what the oligarchs want the stupid simpletons to do, while they datamine and rip you off, insider trading all the way.

            Why would Apple, the richest corporation, be any different? Of course it’ll monetize everything that appears in the glasshole lens. Duh.

            If the citizens actually had representation for their interests, there would be a ton more laws requiring corporations to be transparent & accountable to the individual users. Apple too needs a limit on its power, it’s little different than Google or Facebook.

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