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2:54 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Small Screen, Big Stories: NPR Comes To Google Glass

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 7:31 am

This month, NPR has arrived on its smallest screen yet.

One of the more fascinating tech developments of 2013 has been the arrival of Google Glass. The latest in wearable computing, Glass — true to its name — puts mobile technology in a pair of lightweight glasses, complete with Internet connection, apps and a video-ready camera.

Early adopters are now testing the mobile devices, including two NPR Digital Media developers, Michael Seifollahi and Jared Biehler. Both at work and during free time, Seifollahi and Biehler have been wearing Glass regularly, exploring new features as Google makes them available and keeping the rest of the digital team up to speed. (Come work with us!)

Glass is still very much a work in progress for Google. But this month, the company has enabled the device to browse the Web for the first time. So, Seifollahi has given us our first look at how the NPR website appears on Glass.

When you navigate to the new-this-spring NPR mobile homepage, the page looks just as good as it does on your phone. The page loads quickly, and headlines and images pop in smoothly. We've designed the page — and, in the last year, all of our story pages — to be "responsive," optimizing for screens large and small. As new devices like Glass come along, we're ready.

Web browsing on Glass is basic, especially compared to current desktop and phone browsers, but the experience is surprisingly usable. Sliding one finger along the side of the Glass, you can scroll up or down a page. With two fingers, you can control a target and click links, such as to stories.

But — critical for every NPR fan — can you hear the stories? You can indeed. On the new mobile homepage and on every story that offers audio, you can click the play button and listen to the story. Glass uses a "bone-conduction" speaker that puts the audio near but not in your ear. This way, as you work or move around while wearing the device, you can continue to hear the world around you and the NPR audio.

Glass has a long way to go before becoming a Google product for the masses, and competitors and controversies are already emerging. But we're watching Google's experiment closely and glad to see our redesigned pages working already.

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