During its Connect keynote on 27 September 2023, Meta announced the follow-up to Ray-Ban Stories. Launched back in 2021, Stories were a first step into the world of smart glasses.

It seems that two years on, not a lot has changed. The name has: instead of being called Stories 2, the second-gen specs are called Ray-Ban Meta, but the glasses themselves are much the same as before, even if there’s a new frame style on offer.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sold on the idea of smart glasses yet. At least, not the Ray-Ban Meta kind. Clearly we’re still a long way from being able to pack augmented reality into frames that look and feel like regular glasses, and so the Ray-Ban Meta doesn’t offer that.

Like the Stories, what you get with the Meta is a built-in camera (now upgraded from 5- to 12-megapixels), built-in speakers and an array of microphones. The idea, as before, is that the glasses are your headphones for listening to music and a hands-free option for making and receiving calls.

Jim Martin / Foundry

There’s voice recognition so you can take photos and record videos without using your hands (or phone) and tap and swipe gestures to adjust volume and control music playback.

Meta says the speakers are 50% louder with better bass, the extra two mics improve clarity for your own voice when talking on the phone and for recording spatial audio in videos.

Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses Wayfarer transparent side view

Jim Martin / Foundry

The charging case has been redesigned to look like a normal Ray-Ban case, and the recording LED on the glasses is larger and much easier for other people to see. There are even little rubber nose pads to help stop the glasses sliding down your nose when you tilt your head down.

But is it enough?

At the same price as before – £299 / $299 and available to pre-order immediately – they’re not exactly cheap. And while you’re paying a premium because they’re Ray-Bans, they’re still pretty chunky and, more importantly, noticeably heavier than regular glasses.

The big draw is that it’s easy and convenient to record video and take photos of moments that you’d either miss because they’re over too quickly, or because you’ve got your hands full.

Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses charging case

Jim Martin / Foundry

The portrait aspect ratio is designed for social media, though, not your TV and Meta is pushing the ‘creator’ angle fairly hard. In my hands-on demo, the company showed show it’s possible to livestream to Instagram or Facebook from the camera in the glasses, as well as switching between it and the front camera of your phone.

I was suitably impressed by the quality of video from the upgraded camera, but the audio still sounded tinny. I prefer to listen to music at high quality, so that just leaves phone calls, photos and videos.

Maybe I’m not the target market, or maybe I’m too demanding: show me a pair of smart glasses that are comfortable yet can show me satnav directions while I walk or cycle and I might get my wallet out.

But now, even in 2023, we seem no closer to that reality than we did a decade ago with Google Glass.