[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]As the sole Google Glass Explorer on the Tech Dissected team, I try to cover all the latest in the world of Glass. Lately, however, I feel that I’ve been slacking a bit in this regard. And so, to remedy this, I’ve decided to start a series of posts to keep folks up to date on the current goings-on in Glass land.

There have been two recent developments with Glass that are causing very different reactions from one another amongst Explorers. One, the recent upgrade from 1 GB of RAM to 2GB, has been a source of great frustration for many Glass users. The other, the XE 18.3 OS update, has brought much relief from frustrations caused by serious instability in the OS that has been present since the upgrade to KitKat a few months back.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Glass KitKat[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]So, on the topic of the first, why would anyone be upset that the Glass hardware recently got an upgrade that doubles the RAM? Well, people are upset because they are not getting a free upgrade this time around. See, the last time the Glass hardware was upgraded, Google offered a free upgrade for all of the then-current Explorers. Many people seemed to take this to mean that the same would be offered every time the hardware was upgraded, even though Google themselves never said anything that would cause someone to think that this would be the case.

Am I angry about not getting a free upgrade to the 2 GB model? Of course not. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have the upgraded version, but I don’t think that I have any entitlement to a free upgrade, no matter how much I paid for the original unit, simply because that was never part of the original agreement when I decided to purchase Glass. It was awesome when Google offered the free upgrade the first time, but I certainly don’t feel that they have any requirement to do so every time the hardware is upgraded.

With the amount of Explorers out there now likely numbering somewhere in the area of 50,000, and growing daily now that anyone in the US or UK can freely purchase Glass without an invite, it will be increasingly difficult and expensive for Google to offer such a free upgrade initiative every time the hardware is upgraded. Not to mention the question of what exactly to do with 50,000 old models that people would send back.

Of course, it’s always still possible that Google might offer at least one more free upgrade for Explorers at some point in the future, perhaps when there is an upgrade more significant than just the RAM doubling. Maybe they will do this when the final retail version is ready? If they don’t, though, I’m not going to be angry about it, as, again, that was never a part of the original deal. If they do, awesome.

Now, onto the other recent development that has resulted in much decreased frustration for Glass Explorers: the XE 18.3 update. From its initial public release, the Glass OS had been built on top of Ice Cream Sandwich, specifically Android 4.0.3. Updating the underlying software to Android 4.4 KitKat, with its improved memory management and reduced memory footprint, should have done wonders for Glass, which is running on a TI OMAP 4430 dual-core SoC @ 1GHz. When the KitKat update finally came with XE 16, users were very disappointed to find that, rather than improving, performance had drastically worsened.

Since the update, Glass Explorers have been plagued with frequent reboots, overheating devices, freezes, and just generally poor and sluggish performance. For a while there, I couldn’t even take more than two pictures in a row without Glass freezing up. I can only speculate here, but I believe these problems likely have something to do with the fact that Texas Instruments dropped out of the mobile chipset game prior to the release of KitKat, and therefore there are no 4.4 compatible drivers for the OMAP 4430 available from TI. This means that engineers on the Glass team have been writing these drivers themselves. No small task, and it seems to have turned out to be much more difficult than they originally anticipated.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Glass XE 183[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Numerous updates have followed the XE 16 release over the course of the last few months, none of which have significantly alleviated the issues. That is, until now. With the XE 18.3 update, things are finally starting to turn around. I have not had a single reboot since receiving the update, and performance has improved greatly. It still doesn’t feel quite as stable as it did prior to the XE 16 update, but it’s close.

I had no doubt that Google’s engineers – some of the brightest in the world – would eventually be able to resolve the issues. It’s taken a few months, but things are finally getting back on track, and that’s something that every Glass Explorer should be happy about, even if you are stuck with the slightly inferior model of your futuristic head computer.

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About the author

Chris Foote

Singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Grand Rapids, MI based band, Ars Nova. Google Glass Explorer. Google Helpouts guitar lesson provider. Photographer. Transhumanist. Technology enthusiast. Enlightened Ingresser.