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article imageGoogle Glass updated for the first time in three years

By James Walker     Jun 22, 2017 in Technology
Google has published the first software update for its Google Glass wearable computer since 2014. The minor release adds one feature to the device. It isn't known why Google has launched the update now as the consumer version of Glass has been abandoned.
When Glass debuted, it was originally pitched as the future of technology. The head-mounted display let you overlay apps on the real world so you could navigate a city while looking at a map or view a video call while completing tasks.
The innovative concept proved to be ahead of its time. After predictably failing to attract the attention of consumers at its public launch, Glass has been neglected and left to vanish into obscurity. Its downfall was aided by a series of privacy concerns focused on the device's camera. There were fears it would lead to covert spying and easy piracy of films from cinemas.
Google last updated the device in 2014. Since then, it has shut down Glass' website, deleted its Twitter account and refocused on specific enterprise scenarios. It came as a surprise then when the remaining consumer Glass owners reported an update to the MyGlass companion app this week. A day later, Glass itself got a firmware update, indicating someone at Google has restarted development three years after they left off.
The app has some significant under-the-hood changes. It now targets Android 5.1, a more modern version than the 4.2 it had been abandoned on. It supports Android's newer Notification Listener Service too, the system which Android Wear uses to mirror notifications from a phone. This two-way sync now works with Glass too, offering an improved notification system.
The Glass firmware update is less impressive. Google's release notes list just two changes, one of which is the obligatory "bug fixes and performance improvements." The other is the expansion of the device's Bluetooth capabilities. It now supports Bluetooth mice and keyboards, for some reason that only Google seems to understand.
The unexpected updates have left Glass owners at a loss as to what to expect next. On the one hand, the Glass team has been publicly dormant for years and the device has been all but abandoned. There's little indication that a revival is on the way and in any case it's unlikely the current hardware would be brought back.
The improved notification sync and new support for Bluetooth input suggests something has changed within Google though. Google has neither explained why it has released the updates, when the code for them was written or whether more are on the way. It's possible this release was built years ago and then forgotten when Glass was discontinued.
Google may have rediscovered it and decided to push it out to remaining devices. While the hypothesis doesn’t explain all the oddities involved, it accounts for the Glass app's new target version of 5.1. This was the latest version of Android in 2015 when the Glass social media accounts were taken offline.
Glass owners are being kept in the dark but it seems like the device hasn't been entirely forgotten. Those hoping for further improvements probably shouldn't hold their breath though. Based on the time that's elapsed since the last update, it could be a long wait to the next one.
More about Google, google glass, Android, Devices, wearables
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