Well this is a surprising headline, to say the least. The long-defunct AR hardware from the Mountain View company, Google Glass, is getting its first firmware update in almost 3 years. Today’s update, hot on the heels of a minor update to the MyGlass app yesterday, bumps the device up to XE23 and packs at least one interesting feature.
If your Glass has been sitting in a drawer for the last couple years like mine has, maybe you should break it out if not just for old times’ sake. This latest update to XE23 doesn’t seem to pack anything major (like the visually-different Enterprise Edition software, which I’ve seen myself), but it does have native support for Bluetooth Input Devices.
The most recent update that rolled out was XE22, and many assumed it would be the device’s final firmware update. That update brought notification sync and alternate routes to navigation.
The change log, which Google posted over at its Glass support website (which is still online, somehow), mentions this new feature and the usual “Big fixes and performance improvements”:
XE23 Release Notes
Published June 20, 2017
Bluetooth Input Device
Glass can now be paired with Bluetooth input devices, including keyboards
Bug Fixes and performance improvements
AP installed the update and took some screenshots showing the new Bluetooth Input Device settings panel. From here, you can pair a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse to interact with the screen. As the site notes, the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard will be interpreted as swipes, the return key is a tap, and escape is a swipe down.
If you pair a mouse, it doesn’t do anything in the stock Glass UI itself, but will work for navigating in apps that you might have installed (that is, if you have an app that still functions in 2017).
In case you don’t remember (you probably don’t; please don’t lie to me), all you have to do to get your Glass hardware to download the latest version is plug it in and wait. If you’re on XE22 (which most people probably are), you should see an update start downloading within just a few moments.
Google Glass has a long and complicated history, but the latest big development was the introduction of Google Glass Enterprise Edition which we told you about a couple years ago. That device is — surprisingly to some — still currently in use in the field by some companies, although even that hardware is aging at this point.
It’s also unclear what the future is for Google Glass, but it doesn’t seem likely that this update signals any kind of rebirth. Probably just a Googler cleaning up some bugs. That said, augmented reality technologies like Google Glass are going to be undeniably important in the near future, and I think we’ll all look back at Glass as being one of the brave pioneers that just didn’t have the timing right.