Google Glass gets KitKat, video calls killed off

Google Glass gets KitKat, video calls killed off

Summary: Google has announced KitKat for Glass as it launches a one day sale open to anyone in the US.

TOPICS: Hardware, Android, Google

After a four-month pause, Glass updates "are back", according to Google, which is promising the networked eyewear will be updated to KitKat within the week.

Ahead of Google's one-day sale of Glass to the public — open to anyone in the US today — the company has announced a major but "subtle" update that will bring Android 4.4 KitKat to the hardware.

The last update Glass Explorers got was back in December, which added a lock screen, Hangouts messages, YouTube uploads, an iOS app, weather alerts, and a Wall Street Journal reader.

The next update, available later this week, will bring "photo bundles", which group timeline, photos, videos, and vignettes into bundles to cut down on swiping. Also coming are photo replies in Hangouts, easier ways to send feedback to Google, and the ability to sort previously-created custom voice commands.

KitKat will also improve battery life and make Glass a bit more stable than the current version, Android 4.0.3.

The update however also temporarily removes Glass' video calling functionality, which apparently didn't live up to the Glass team's 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," the Glass team said.

"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."

Google advised owners to keep an eye out on the Glass Journal for Explorers for more updates.

Despite the changes, Google described the KitKat update as"subtle", and the most part, users won't see any difference in using Glass once it's installed, according to the Google Glass team.

Anyone inside the US that is interested in becoming a Glass owner and breaking into the Explorer program can do so from 9am PDT on Tuesday. As with previous campaigns, the prototype device will set punters back $1500 plus tax.

While Google has been working out processes to deliver and fit Glass devices to consumers, the device has found support from enterprise application developers that believe it has a solid role in business, from supporting surgeons during training to construction and the warehouse.

Read more on Google Glass

Topics: Hardware, Android, Google

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Still not convinced

    These would be useless in any fast-paced or potentially dangerous activity, as you lose almost all your right peripheral vision! Bad obtrusive and clunky...
    Carl White
  • So they've killed off video calls....

    which means that if you do video calls (I do), you now have to carry a phone on your person as well, and you're carrrying 2-3 devices again, and, well.... how exactly does this solve anything?
    • You mean they had got rid of the requirement

      of having to be tethered to a phone?
      Didn't realize that.
      Now that is an accomplishment.
      • I never use my data plan for video calls.... do you?

        You must have an awesome bandwidth allowance if you find yourself doing that!