Nobody could be faulted for assuming Google Glass had been thoroughly abandoned; there were even a few public statements to that effect. That's why it came as such a surprise when a "minor" update to the MyGlass companion app began rolling out today to a limited number of users. The previous release came out almost three years ago, at the end of 2014, likely making this the longest gap between app updates in Google's history with Android. The changes aren't very overwhelming, but they aren't insignificant either.
If you still happen to have Google Glass and you're feeling nostalgic, dig it out of the gadget drawer, plug it in and give it a whirl. If you notice any changes I missed, let us know in the comments below. The update appears to be in a staged rollout, so hit the APK Mirror link below to skip the wait.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
Notification Sync no longer requires disabling it on Android Wear
Battery optimizations can be disabled
Bug fixes, performance improvements, and other stuff
Notification Sync without shutting off Android Wear
It has been a long time, so this one probably requires a little refresher. Shortly after the release of Android Wear, Glass owners were quick to point out how useful those same notifications could be if they weren't just on their wrists, but also in front of their eyes. It took a few months, but the Glass team made it happen. However, this came with a pretty big sacrifice: Users could only have notification syncing enabled for either Wear or Glass, but not both at the same time.
After all this time, the latest version throws out this curious restriction and now allows the two types of devices to work as seamlessly together as they should have. In my tests, it seems like there still might be some bugs in the process because some notifications only appeared on Wear and not Glass, but it's possible this is linked to some setting or some specific implementation details.
Ignore Battery Optimizations
Wear owners have almost certainly seen the dialog box shown above. Sometimes apps have to work outside of the rules normally imposed by Android's most recent versions, so developers can make a request to the OS (which in turn asks users) to relax the restrictions a bit and allow more aggressive battery usage. Since Wear and Glass both require fairly constant connections to make themselves useful, they fall into this category.
That's where the latest MyGlass update comes in. The previous version predated the addition of new power management rules, and as a result, existing Glass users began to see unpredictable behavior stemming from Android OS putting the companion app to sleep more often and longer than it should. The new version can now ask users to grant the proper permission to get things done right.
The functional changes above are pretty important and actually serve to keep Glass running for those users that continue to hang on to one of Google's most ambitious – and ambitiously priced – gadgets. Under the hood fixes have also been made to play nicer with various changes in recent versions of Android, and the target SDK has even been updated from API 17 to API 22. In other words, there are many other small and mostly unnoticeable improvements. Normally, I wouldn't make a note for the overused "bug fixes and performance improvements" line item in a changelog, but it's probably deserved in this situation.
If you should happen to go digging around for minor cosmetic changes and tweaks, you'll find that a few things have been reordered or slightly adjusted, but they're still functionally the same. However, one particular change caught my eye and will probably serve as a sad reminder to many early members of the Explorer program: The "Community" link has been removed from the nav drawer. For those in the program, this was the private message board where early adopters could go to comment on, share stories about, and suggest improvements for Glass. The site was shut down long ago, so the link only went to a page thanking people for being a part of the program.
Since the changes in this update are mostly there to restore the companion app to a baseline level of functionality, I'm left wondering if we're going to see any further updates or if this will prove to be a wild one-off release. For that matter, I'd just like to know the story about how this one came to exist. Who knows, maybe the official G+ account for Glass will spring to life next.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.