While North has not yet added third-party app support to their Focals smartglasses, the company has been diligently as late as possible to add more functionality to the AR device.
This week, North released the latest set of new features designed to keep users entertained on public transport, in waiting rooms and during other vacancies.
For sports fans, Focals can now show results and play-for-play updates for the NBA and NHL games, which is quite a good time since both leagues are in the middle of the after school. Using the Loop control (a ring-like device that fits your finger) to browse the Weather app, Focals users can see real-time updates and end results in their field of view.
If sport is not your bag, maybe you want to learn a new language? Focals offers language flip charts for frequently used phrases, such as greeting someone or thanks in French, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Mandarin and Arabic.
For those who dig trivia, Focals also presents a Daily Trivia Challenge. Users can test their knowledge of history, film and pop culture, with the app recording the players' points and showing their ranking against other Focals owners. While only 10 questions are available at a time, a new round of questions comes daily at 2 am. Eastern time.
On March 26, North began issuing weekly updates that has added a number of new features to the device. Previous updates have added the ability to share the Focals AR experience with others, music control for Spotify, meeting and calendar enhancements, and flight information, including quality of life improvements.
Meanwhile, the competing smartglass manufacturer Vuzix has not been shy about adding third-party apps to its Blade smartglasses. The notebook supports Amazon Alexa and Accuweather, among other common applications. While North has added Spotify controls, Vuzix has a Spotify app. Most recently, Vuzix added a beta (and unofficial) Google Assistant app.
The frequent updates for Focals, as well as a recent low-cost help offset the lack of apps on the device. However, the positive development does not interrupt the limited availability of the product, as Focals still requires a personal fitting with either the Nordic bricks in Toronto and Brooklyn or at one of the company's traveling pop-up stores.
If you are dead on taking consumer smart glasses, Vuzix and North are pretty much the best games in town when it comes to relatively common solutions. But both offers come with compromises in terms of price, availability, form and function, but competitors do not rest on their laurels, so get ready for your smart glass options to increase in the next few months.