Apple Watch + Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses make the perfect running combo, and more on why I love these glasses

As far as I’m concerned, this 8-minute YouTube video by Becca Farcace at The Verge is required viewing for anyone interested in the Meta Ray-Bans and will give you valuable context for this blog post. I didn’t see it until after I already had my Ray-Bans, but Farcace does an excellent job guiding us through where we’ve been and where we’re going regarding smart glasses and ambient computing. Her ideas on how they’re useful and who will win” in the smart glasses competition (spoiler: the companies we trust the most), largely mirror my own.

Alright, you’ve seen it? Great! Let’s get started.

Black eyeglasses rest in front of a brown glasses case bearing the “Ray-Ban” logo; a smartwatch displays the time on a colorful striped surface.
The dream team?

In a world full of new AI gadgets, headsets, and wearables, Meta, of all companies, is making the one that’s making the biggest difference in my life.

A professional intrigue

I’ve been using the Meta Ray-Ban Smart Glasses for about a month now, and I’m finding even more reasons to wear them all the time. My reason for buying them in the first place was simple: I wanted a hands-free camera that I could wear while guiding. As a rock climbing and hiking guide, I function as the dedicated photographer for my clients as well as their instructor and safety manager. That last bit, safety, was the clincher for the purchase. I didn’t want to be fumbling with getting my phone out of my pocket, especially while holding my climber’s rope as their belayer.

The glasses have been working great for that purpose. I’ve captured far more footage and videos of my clients and of my own climbing, first-person perspective, than ever. My clients love it, and I think I’ve sold more than a few of them on the idea of smart glasses because of all the candid shots I can get. (No one’s been skeeved out about the camera — I think cameras in public are just accepted now.) At a moment’s notice, I press a button or simply say Hey Meta, take a photo/video” to capture the scene — an impromptu snowball fight, topping out on a climb, a hug at the mountain’s summit — without breaking my focus, fishing my phone out of my pocket, or taking off my gloves.

With wind like this, I sure didn’t want to be holding my phone above this 200-foot drop. But I could still capture the moment!

It’s revolutionary.

Could these run?

But there’s been another use case that I longed to be able to use the glasses for: on my runs. I’ve been running without carrying my phone for many years now. With the advent of the Apple Watch, particularly the cellular version for staying connected and streaming audio, I no longer needed to have the phone bounce around my pocket or strap on an armband for it. I slip on my shoes, grab my sunglasses, pop in some headphones, and away I go. But often while putting in the miles, I’d come across something I wanted to capture. A deer running across my path. A new trailhead that I want to remember for later. A funny sign. A particularly pretty flower my wife would enjoy. Countless bits of nature that I’d probably never come across again. And I could never get a photo or video because I’d left my phone behind.

Not to mention that I’ve never settled on an audio setup for runs that I’d been happy with. Regular AirPods fall out. PowerBeats Pro and Beats Fit Pro stayed in but were less comfortable. The closest I’ve gotten is with SHOKZ bone-conduction headphones. They’re pretty good, but wearing them with my sunglasses gets a little bulky around the ears.

No longer. After initial disappointment when I thought from Meta’s documentation that the glasses could only be paired with a device running the Meta View app, thanks to a Reddit comment, I realized I could make the perfect gadget combo for unencumbered-yet-full-featured runs. If you long-press the pairing button on the case with the glasses in them, they’ll go into pairing mode and you can connect additional devices for audio. You’ve never seen someone make a new Bluetooth connection so fast! And connecting it to my Apple Watch didn’t lose the original connection with my phone running the Meta View app.

I took it for a brief test run — literally — and I’m here to tell you that the hype I’m expressing here is real. Getting my Apple Watch to be the music source (rather than my phone) and broadcast to the glasses took a little fiddling in the Bluetooth menu, but after getting the music started, it was sublime. The audio quality is great, certainly as good as any of my other running-capable headphones. And yet nothing is blocking my ears from the sounds around me, meaning I can hear and be aware of traffic or other people around me. No sneak attacks coming my way! I didn’t worry about earbuds slipping out of my ears. I didn’t have a phone bouncing around in my pocket. The glasses, despite having a whole computer inside them, weren’t so heavy that they would slide down my nose. They were just sunglasses! I took a video of my dog padding alongside me on our darkening road without missing a beat.

This is the real deal.


Now, I know that many of you out there will disregard these glasses simply because they’re made by Meta, the artist formerly known as Facebook. You probably didn’t even make it this far into the article if your distrust or dislike of Meta runs that hot. But if you did make it this far, know that I absolutely understand where you’re coming from. I, myself, ditched Facebook a few years ago.

But what I’ll say is that you can, as far as I can tell, lock down the mandatory Meta View app to a surprising degree if you want to distance your data as far as possible from Meta’s servers. You do need a Meta account, but it doesn’t have to be linked to an existing Instagram or Facebook account to be useful. You can choose to never have your images and videos get sent to Meta’s servers. If you use their AI features, those voice prompts do get sent to Meta since the AI model does not run on the glasses themselves. If you turn on their multimodal AI features, like the new Look at this and [insert request about the image]” thing, those images also get sent to Meta, while you’re personal captures continue to transfer directly between the glasses and the connected View app.

Meta has made improvements over the years with the kinds and extent of permissions users have around their data, and I think it’s worth noting. And if you use Instagram or Threads, I think you’re already sending way more data their way than you would just by using the glasses as a connected camera and headphones.

But concerns regarding these being Meta Ray-Bans are valid, and it’s something you’ll have to accept if you want to use them. Just pay attention when setting them up, and I think you’ll be happy with just how private you can make the glasses. I was.

Some small shortcomings

I might have just four feature requests left for a future pair of smart glasses:

  1. Water resistance. The more I wear these on outdoor adventures, the more I worry about their delicate electronics getting wet.
  2. Longer battery life. I wouldn’t mind charging them every day, but it would be cool if they lasted a full day. It’s a little short with frequent photo and video captures, but they do recharge quickly when popped back in their case.
  3. Landscape (or at least square) aspect ratio option for camera captures. I know vertical photos and videos are all the rage these days, but I think of my vision as in landscape and I wish it would capture a little truer to what I’m seeing.
  4. Louder speakers. They’re not bad, but when you’re running (or biking or skiing) with the wind rushing by your ears, a little extra volume would go a long way.

If Meta made any of these improvements in a second-generation product, I’d be sorely tempted to upgrade. If we got two or more of them, it’d be a no-brainer. I like them that much.

I would also be very into an Apple version of these glasses. A pair with even tighter integration with my other devices (iCloud Photos, automatic device switching, an Apple-designed photo pipeline), and less entrenchment in the Meta-verse, would be a home run.

Impromptu frisbee with my wife while waiting for totality during the solar eclipse.

P.S. My first impressions

I know first impressions are supposed to go, well, first, but I just found these notes I took in the first night that I tried the glasses and thought they were worth sharing.

They are surprisingly comfortable and fit my smaller face as well. Usually, I struggle to find sunglasses that fit my head, but these slipped right on, aren’t heavy, and don’t look large at all.

I really think the transition lenses are going to be the key feature to get the most use out of these glasses. I haven’t had them transition to dark yet because it’s been nighttime this whole time I’ve been wearing them, but they are clear they can drive while wearing them without it seeming any darker than my normal vision. And although I’m not a glasses wearer, I feel like I’m getting used to having them in my field of view and on my face very quickly. I don’t know if I will want to wear them all day every day, but I think I could.

I stand by this observation. I know they’re already expensive, but if you can swing the extra $80 for transitions, I sure do recommend it.

The voice control is very quick. They must have some sort of on-device processing, at least for little stuff like taking photos and videos, and music controls. The voice response is pretty pleasant too.

The touch controls on the side of the temple are also responsive… sometimes almost too responsive. When I try to double-tap to seek forward or triple-tap to seek back, sometimes it gets interpreted as a pause and then a double-tap. Not great. But that might improve over time, or I just may get used to the necessary interaction.

I have gotten used to the controls and no longer think about them. I particularly like that I can adjust the volume with a swipe on the right temple.

I am desperately hoping that there’s a way for me to pair the glasses with my Apple Watch so that I can go for a run and just use them as the speaker for listening to music and podcasts from my watch, and then I have a camera with me too!

Ha! I knew exactly what I wanted right from day one.

Battery life might be a little lacking, but I’m going to give it a pass for the first day and see how things go after a full recharge tomorrow.

I mentioned this above too. Battery life could be better, and they definitely struggled in cold temps when I went skiing and hiking in the snow.

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