While North has yet to add third-party app support to its Focals smartglasses, the company has been diligent as of late in its efforts to add more functionality to the bare-bones AR device.
This week, North released the latest set of new functions designed to keep users entertained on public transit, in waiting rooms, and during other moments of idleness.
For sports fans, Focals can now display scores and play-by-play updates for NBA and NHL games, which is fairly good timing since both leagues are in the midst of their post-season stages. Using the Loop controller (a ring-like device that fits on your finger) to scroll past the Weather app, Focals users can see real-time updates and final scores in their field of view.
If sports isn't your bag, perhaps you'd like to learn a new language? Focals offers language flashcards for frequently-used phrases, such as greeting someone or saying 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, movies, and pop culture, with the app tallying the players' scores and displaying their rankings against other Focals owners. While only 10 questions are available at a time, a new round of queries arrive daily at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
On March 26, North began issuing weekly updates that have added a slew of new functions to the device. Previous updates have added the ability to share the Focals AR experience with others, music controls for Spotify, meeting and calendar enhancements, and air travel information, among other quality-of-life improvements.
Meanwhile, competing smartglasses maker Vuzix has not been shy about adding third-party apps to its Blade smartglasses. The wearable supports Amazon Alexa and Accuweather, among other mainstream apps. 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 price cut, helps to make up for the lack of apps on the device. However, those positive developments don't cancel out the limited availability of the product, since Focals still require an in-person fitting at either North's brick-and-mortar stores in Toronto and Brooklyn, or at one of the company's traveling pop-up shops.
If you're dead set on taking the consumer smartglasses plunge, Vuzix and North are pretty much the best games in town in terms of relatively mainstream solutions. However, both offerings come with compromises in terms of price, availability, form, and function, but competitors are not resting on their laurels, either, so get ready for your smartglasses options to increase in coming months.