The Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses debuted at Connect 2023 with much fanfare. Yes, the product can record videos, take photos, and take calls — just like its predecessor "Ray-Ban Stories" — but what threw people for a loop is the introduction of artificial intelligence.
As it turns out, the Ray-Ban smart glasses come equipped with the social media giant's new digital assistant: Meta AI.
By simply saying "Hey Meta!" you'll have a digital assistant within easy reach. With that being said, we sifted through a good chunk of reviews across several popular tech outlets, including DigitalTrends, Engadget, How-to Geek, and more. Let's dive into the top three aspects of Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses that reviewers did not like.
1. Meta AI limitations
Unlike the AirGo 3 smart glasses we reviewed, which have support for ChatGPT — a well-established AI chatbot — the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses feature Meta AI, which isn't fully baked yet.
Consequently, while many reviewers praised Meta AI for answering basic questions with a "Hey Meta" prompt, they were disappointed that the digital assistant couldn't provide any real-time information aside from the weather and current forecast.
"The assistant’s 'knowledge cutoff' is December 2022," noted Engadget's Karissa Bell, "and it will remind you of that for most questions related to current events." In other words, if you try to ask Meta AI, "Tell me about the iPhone 15 Pro Max," you won't get an answer because that device launched after December 2022. Tough luck!
It doesn't help that Meta AI doesn't have access to the internet — at least, not yet.
"It can’t tell me the location of the closest EV charging station, but the Meta smart glasses can handle translation and write poetry for me," said Alan Truly in DigitalTrends. "Still, internet access will be a significant improvement."
VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi, on the other hand, complained that Meta AI is far too slow in answering questions.
Still, this doesn't mean Meta AI is totally useless. You can also use it to initiate the following commands:
Take a picture
Take a video
Call [insert contact]
Message [insert contact] on WhatsApp
How much battery is left?
According to reviews, the digital assistant is best used for creative endeavors. For example, you can ask it to come up with a fun caption for your Eiffel Tower picture on Instagram.
2. A violation of privacy?
After Meta announced its second-generation smart glasses, there was chatter about whether these spectacles would encroach on others' privacy.
Stuff reviewer Jack Needham is highly critical of this in his review, calling the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses a privacy nightmare. "It's never been socially acceptable to point a camera in someone's face without their concert," Needham said, "So personally, I don't want to point a camera in someone's face without their consent."
Needham said he shudders at the thought of wearing a camera on his face while he's out in public, adding that he finds the experience to be invasive and creepy.
Android Central's Michael Hicks said something similar: "Frankly, whenever I passed someone, I instantly felt uncomfortable about looking directly at them, in case someone would recognize my glasses' functionality and assume the worst about my intentions."
As Vicky Jessop pointed out in a review for Yahoo! Finance, however, when you are taking a photo or recording a video, passersby will be alerted by the LED light that lights up on the side of the frame. "Any attempts to block the light will switch off their streaming capabilities," the outlet added.
3. Battery life could be better
The Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses are rated to last for four hours with light use. Not many reviewers put the streaming giant's smart glasses to the test, but the few that did were not all that impressed.
In his review for Android Central, Hicks said that the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses battery lasted between 3 and 3.5 hours after making phone calls, streaming music, taking photos, asking Meta AI questions, and listening to notifications. However, the outlet understood that Meta had to prioritize the lightweight form factor of the smart glasses over battery runtime.
How-to Geek's Tyler Hayes said that needing to use the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses' battery case to get a full day of use is a "con." After using the glasses to take a 30-minute video call, Hayes noted that the battery life dropped by about 20%.
Overall, however, reviewers are pleasantly surprised by the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses. "I expected the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses to be lame," DigitalTrends' Truly said. "I was wrong."
Critics praised the AI spectacles for its hands-free photo capture, stylishness, excellent speaker and mic quality, and Instagram livestreaming capabilities. It's too bad that the Meta AI hasn't lived up to its full potential yet, but according to Meta, the smart glasses will get a visual search update in the near future.
Visual search will allow Meta AI to "observe" what you're looking at and answer questions for you. For example, if you're looking at an odd-looking edifice while traveling, Meta AI will tell you what it is. That is admittedly very cool — and I can't wait to try the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses for myself.