Google Glass gets sweet with Android KitKat update, longer battery life

Android is taking over more than just smartphone market share, as Google Glass now uses the company's popular mobile operating system to power its wearable headset.

Google's switch from Glass' XE updates to Android KitKat brings a lot of behind-the-scenes changes, a Google spokesperson confirmed to TechRadar.

That translates to improved battery life and more reliable device performance going forward, two issues that get under the skin of current Google Glass beta testers.

Developers are also likely to find it easier to write Glassware using the latest Android SDK and new features from Google's GDK. That stingy Google Glass app list should finally start growing.

It's perfect timing for this update considering Google is about to expand Project Glass with open enrollment for approximately 24 hours tomorrow. No invite beta code will be needed.

Messages and command list update

The Google Glass interface hasn't changed in its update to the Android KitKat operating system, but some of the features have been enhanced to make your augmented life easier.

Explorers can now include photo replies in Hangout messages, a function that was only possible when beginning a new conversation.

That's significant because one of the most widely used features among Google Glass beta testers has been to take hands-free photos. Now it's even easier to share your first-person experiences.

Because the number of apps has increased, the Google Glass command list has become unwieldy. This is why Google has enabled voice command sorting.

Now, the "Okay Glass" menu sorts commands by recency and frequency, putting the app voice triggers that you hardly use toward the end of the menu.

Dropped video calls

Android KitKat isn't all sugary treats for Google Glass. Today's operating system update spells the end for the hit-or-miss video calls feature.

Google noted that fewer than 10% of Explorers take advantage of video calls and it's removing the feature in order to work on a better experience.

In the meantime, the company points to alternative Glassware that brings video streaming functionality to Google Glass. You'll find the Livestream app and the forthcoming Glass expansion the Hang w/ app perform the same tasks.

Just be prepared to say goodbye to native video calls with the latest Google Glass update.

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Matt Swider