Here’s how you get the most bang for your buck using Google Glass with a Windows Phone as of December 2013. Everything works as it should except directions & SMS, and there’s a way around that if you’d like to schlep an Android tablet around sometimes.
The phone I was testing with is a Lumia 920, Windows Phone 8 Update 3 on AT&T, and the Glass was XE11.
You currently do setup of Glass at the MyGlass site on the web.
What’s “any Bluetooth-capable phone” really mean?
Google says Glass is compatible with “Any Bluetooth-capable phone”. Glass can pair to Windows Phone with Bluetooth, so yes, I suppose it’s compatible. But you get a fancy voice headset out of this deal. Caveat emptor, and missing Bluetooth PAN much? The interesting functionality requires a bit more work:
Glass works quite well with Windows Phone Wi-Fi Internet Sharing. You have to toggle Internet Sharing on/off manually* on the phone, which isn’t ideal. If you’re going to root around in your pocket to turn it on, you might as well just use your phone…
But once toggled on, Glass has internet connectivity wherever you go, instead of only at Wi-Fi access points. If you do ever want to configure a Wi-Fi access point, which you can’t do on Glass itself, you can do it on your phone at the MyGlass site. Bluetooth 0, Wi-Fi 2.
I haven’t had Internet Sharing toggle itself off in this configuration, which is good (only need to turn it on once) and bad (it burns the phone battery down 15%/hr when all Glass & the phone are doing is pulling notifications.) So make sure you toggle Internet Sharing off when you’re not using Glass, and thank goodness for wireless charging!**
Directions and SMS messaging
Glass doesn’t have its own GPS and SMS capability. Unless it’s connected to a device that does, “Get Directions” and “Send a Message” are disabled. Unfortunately “a device that does” means a Bluetooth-paired Android device running the MyGlass – as I’ve implied so far, you need an Android device for no other reason, not even for Glass setup.
If you want to try directions, and you have an Android tablet (a Wi-Fi Nexus 7 running KitKat is what I tried), you:
- Bluetooth pair the tablet & Glass
- Install & set up the MyGlass app
- Set the tablet up to get an internet connection through your phone by Internet Sharing while you’re at it.
Now you’ll be able to get directions when your tablet’s “in your bag”, and when it’s not, oh well.
SMS messaging is enabled in this configuration, but I think errantly for me — it’s either buggy, or doesn’t work at all through a Wi-Fi-only tablet. Glass did let me send several texts, told me one of the texts was not delivered… but none of the texts were actually delivered. And I have no idea if I can receive texts or not, but I’m not hopeful. Anyone know what’s going on here?
So the Glass + Windows Phone works well enough for “explorer”/developer scenarios for certain… you can run around for a few hours out trying things, and write and test code for better versions of the hardware to come. I can’t say the XE units are for much beyond those scenarios anyway, and I wasn’t expecting more, so I can’t complain. Hopefully this helps you decide if you can handle Windows Phone. I mean Glass.
*Has Microsoft shared the protocol used to kick Wi-Fi Internet Sharing on through Bluetooth in Windows Phone 8 Update 3? If so, I’d think Android/Glass could include it, and this would address battery problems on the phone somewhat.
** Glass needs wireless charging. It has a micro USB connector that’s almost certainly going to get broken. I’d forgotten how bad those are.