Google Glass users can now say 'Explore Nearby' to launch Field Trip, discover the world around them

When Google released its Field Trip app for Glass back in August last year, it made perfect sense. You could finally use the wearable computer as a handy visual tour guide when you're out and about, which in our opinion is a far better use-case for it than checking email or reading text messages. That said, the original Field Trip wasn't the smoothest experience, as you still had to tap the eyewear's touchpad to launch it. That changes today, however, with a new voice command feature that lets you activate the app simply by saying "OK Glass, Explore Nearby," effectively making it a top-level command similar to "Take a picture" or "Get directions." Given that the app was developed by Niantic Labs, an internal startup within Google, it's no surprise that it works so seamlessly with the Google hardware.

Once you utter "OK Glass, Explore Nearby," the Field Trip app will appear, showing you nearby attractions and restaurants along with details from categories like History, Art, Architecture, Food and Cool Stuff. I tried out an early version of the app, and it does indeed work as promised, allowing me to find out the history of a nearby building simply by using my voice. I still needed to tap and swipe the touchpad to narrow down to a particular category, but here's hoping even that can be relegated to your voice some day. After that though, the app remains relatively passive and notifies you of anything interesting as you walk around. We've included a promo video here that demonstrates how that works.

If you're wondering why it took so long for Field Trip to incorporate the voice command feature, Leif Wilden, a Google software engineer who's also a part of Niantic Labs, tells us that Glass is still an evolving platform. He states that "the capability to integrate apps such as Field Trip with voice commands has become available only recently." Aside from the voice command, Field Trip has also been updated with content from more publishers -- a little over 200, in fact. Some of the more recent additions include Happy Vermont and Guide to Copenhagen. Yennie Solheim Fuller, a Niantic Labs marketing associate, tells us that they're constantly scouring the web for hyperlocal content that they can incorporate into the app, with sources that range from Zagat all the way to smaller blogs and community sites. "We want content on tiny towns like Belmont too," she said, emphasizing that Field Trip won't just have info about big cities.

Glass Explorers can go ahead and get the new Field Trip today using the MyGlass software. If you're an existing user, you'll need to toggle it off and on again to get voice commands. We're not sure if this app is quite enough to justify the $1,500 for Glass though, so if you've just got yourself a new pair, do let us know if it's worth it.