Google is a company not known to shy away from expensive experiments that get left by the wayside. Usually, those abandoned projects remain dead unless taken up by the community. So imagine the surprise and bewilderment when Google suddenly pushed out not just an update to the MyGlass app but an update to the Google Glass firmware itself. Now might be a good time to dust off those spectacles and relive the memories of what could have been.
Near the end of 2014, the fate of Google Glass was already in limbo. Despite what Google execs would say, all signs pointed to the death of the rather controversial wearable device. Early 2015, the already limited sales of Glass was halted and the smart eyeglasses faded into obscurity. The only short-lived signs of life were from word of a version 2 that was meant not for consumers but for enterprise customers and industry workers. For all intents and purposes, Google Glass is dead. Or is it?
A few days ago, Android Police caught whiff of an update to the MyGlass companion app. The update fixed long-standing complaints and wishes about the way the device works. For example, now users can have notifications display both on their Android Wear smartwatch as well as on Glass.
Perhaps more importantly, the app has been updated to be compatible with more recent Android versions. The API supported was raised from API Level 17, for Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, to level 22, for Android 5.1 Lollipop. It also now takes into consideration new power management policies and asks the user if they want to keep the app running in the background at the expense of more battery usage.
So Google may have not completely abandoned Google Glass after all, if it has been silently working on it. But why now? Perhaps the XE23 firmware update, the first since XE22 in October 2014, holds a clue. The sole listed change is the addition of support for Bluetooth input devices, including keyboards. With the popularity of mixed reality platforms, first with Microsoft’s HoloLens and now Apple’s ARKit, Google might have felt that it was finally time to resurrect Glass and to remind the world that they were there first.