Google has officially announced via Google+ that Glass will be receiving KitKat later this week. Google is promising improved battery life and enhanced reliability, which will be welcome news to Explorers. Additionally, this update supposedly makes Glass easier to update in the future, which should help the device keep up-to-date with Android releases. Besides these under-the-hood enhancements, Google is adding various new features to the platform in this XE16 KitKat update.
Most notably are photo bundles. Photos will now be grouped by day when browsing. Photo replies in Hangouts and voice command sorting are also making their Glass debut. Photo replies in Hangouts is self-explanatory, but voice command sorting will be a welcome addition for most Explorers.
As more Glassware is available, the app launcher is increasingly more complex and frustrating to use. This feature will sort apps by usage, making it faster to launch them.
Google is pulling one major feature: video calls.
We hold ourselves to high standards for the features that we build, and video calls aren’t living up to these standards. Explorers have told us so directly, and fewer than 10% of them use video calls. For this reason, we’ve made the hard decision to remove video calls from Glass until the experience is better. We don’t know when that will be, but in the meantime, keep an eye on MyGlass as more Glassware is built and released – we’re already seeing the developer community work on other video streaming services.
There are various other features and tweaks included in this release; Google calls it a “massive” update, saying that they couldn’t possibly share all of the changes in a single Google+ post.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that Glassware developers will now be able to target the latest set of Android APIs. This should mean that Glass apps will be more efficient and useful for users of Google’s heads-up display.
Google will offer Glass to anyone interested tomorrow, albeit at the full $1,500 Explorer price.