Google Glass XE23 firmware update mysteriously unfolds with support for Bluetooth input devices

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If you still have a Google Glass unit, Yesterday’s mysterious update to the MyGlass companion app you might have thought of dusting off the headset to see if it could still hold a charge … If you could ever really tell Glass was holding a charge. In perhaps the biggest tease (or troll) for Glass owners, today brings an even bigger surprise: new firmware. Yes, if you leave Glass connected to the internet for a while, it should download and install the brand new XE23 update.

Google released release notes to accompany the new version. Only two items were listed, one of them being the all too familiar “bug fixes and performance improvements” line. However, the other line asks to add support for Bluetooth input devices. This might sound like old news, as many people have used keyboards with Glass in the past, but it required a third-party app to manage your Bluetooth connections. The new firmware includes a built-in manager for pairing and forgetting wireless hardware.

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As you can see from the screens, the setup is pretty straightforward and works just like it would with any Android device. Typing on the keyboard is fast and inexplicably fun to use. The left and right arrow keys work as swipes back and forth (respectively), the Enter key works as a tap, and Esc is mapped to a swipe down, even turning off the display in the main row of cards. Unfortunately, the arrow keys do not work consistently throughout the interface; they’re great in the Settings section and in right-click menus, but tend to get stuck on the main row of cards and don’t work at all in apps like Hangouts (except the right-click menu). Unfortunately, the rest of the keys are basically unnecessary because the Glass interface does not use standard text boxes.

Oh, you can also connect a mouse and see a cursor if you move it. It won’t do anything of value with regular Glass cards, but it can work on secondary downloaded apps and launchers if you really want to hack.

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Given that the last update (XE22) was almost three years ago, it’s still unclear whether Glass gets any support again, either officially or from a sympathetic Googler with time to kill. Glass continued to see new hardware and software from some Google partners, so this update may be a small token that came with it. On the other hand, someone might flush out the pipes of the latest little unseen work.

It’s too early to argue that a new version of Glass might be in the works, but it might not be too crazy now that Google Assistant is in the mainstream and much of the functionality of Glass’s banner has been refined in projects like Android Wear. and Auto. Whatever the real story, current Glass owners should take the opportunity to remove the headset and give the XE23 a try.

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