Google Glass XE12 update lets you take pics with a wink – also introduces Hangouts, YouTube, and lots more


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We’re well into December and for many Google Glass Explorers, we were wondering what the hold up was regarding Google and their monthly software updates. Well, now we know why. Turns out this month’s update is one of the biggest yet for Google Glass, cramming a boatload of new features and Glassware into the tiny headset.

Google Glass is finally iOS compatible

Highlighted in depth on the Google Glass support site, the XE12 update finally introduces iOS users to the MyGlass app (previously, an Android exclusive). It actually appeared earlier today on Apple’s App Store for a brief moment before being taken down, but we assume (or hope, rather), it will appear again shortly.

Google Glass gets a lockscreen/removes Guest Mode

Google Glass XE12 lockscreen

Also new in XE12 is — finally — a way to actually keep prying eyes away from sensitive data on your Glass with a screen lock. The screen lock will activate whenever Glass is powered down (then powered back up), or when removed from the head providing you have “Head-on detection” enabled in the settings. No word on how you go about unlocking a device with screen lock, but we imagine it would take a series of swipes using the touchpad.

With the new screen lock, Google felt “Guest Mode” was no longer necessary, and have completely removed the feature in XE12. Apparently this was too hard for the Glass team to maintain, and it’s been done away with. The Glass team recommends using a demo Google account if you’re going to be passing around Glass with friends and family this holiday season. You can create one here.

Glass now snaps pics with a wink

Google Glass XE12 wink update

In a “controversial” new move, XE12 now gives Google Glass owners (only those with Glass v2) the ability to take photos with a simple wink. Yes, folks. A simple wink. Where it was somewhat obvious a Glasshole was taking your picture by pressing the shutter button on their headset or speaking aloud “Ok Glass, take a picture,” this can now be executed with a wink. Google calls it an “exploratory” new feature, and it’s one we’re anticipate media outlets will have a field day with, citing privacy concerns. (Sigh).

New Glassware (apps)

Google Play Music

Google Glass XE12 Play Music Glassware

Google Play Music coming to Glass was an older development, but new for XE12 is the Play Music “Touch Menu”. Essentially this allows the user to swipe through playlists they’ve created, or select Play Music’s “My stations”, or fun new “I’m feeling lucky” radio station.


Google Glass XE12 Hangouts

We’ve been waiting for Hangouts to make its way to Glass ever since its inception and XE12 finally delivers. After enabling Hangouts, in addition to making video calls (which has been implemented practically since day 1), you can also send and receive chats — along with photos! This feature alone makes Glass a much better communications device, as I’m always staying in touch with family and friends via Hangouts. Awesome.


In previous updates, we’ve seen limited YouTube functionality. It was mainly only videos you can watch on the headset by searching. Neat, sure. But with XE12, we can now upload videos directly to our YouTube channels from Glass. Don’t worry, privacy settings are also selectable, allowing the user to choose either Public, Private, or Unlisted before uploading.

Google Search cards

A handful of more Google Search cards have been added in XE12 (but why not all of them?). Using the power of Google’s knowledge graph, Glass can now tell you how many calories are in a banana, or “how far to Brooklyn?” in which the answer is always the Beastie Boys’ classic, “No Sleep Til Brooklyn.”


Lastly, Google has removed the “| Sent through Glass” signature when sending SMS messages. When speaking <140 character SMS message — every character counts. So how will your contacts know that you sent them an SMS using your $1,500 Google Glass headset? Don’t worry, you’ve already told them.

Google Glass XE12 over heating warning

Also new for XE12 is an overheating warning when the Glass unit gets too hot displaying the message “Glass must cool down to run smoothly.” Temperature increases often occur when recording or streaming too much video, during a video Hangout, or while charging and using the device normally.

XE12 is currently rolling out to Google Glass headsets right now. Just make sure your Glass is connected to WiFi and charging to update as soon as XE12 is available for your device. Happy holidays.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. $15,000 Google Glass headset? And I thought $1,500 was steep…

  2. I see a LOT of sneeze pics coming out of this. TO THE RESEARCH!

    1. As long as nobody sneezes while going pee…

      1. That’s just scientific data.

        Imagine taking a sneeze pic while going pee and have a Google Hangout open, then in a Google Hangout saying “Postal service sucks now”.

        What you get is a Pic of someone’s junk and a message saying “service suck now”.

        You know it is going to happen….

  3. This is the best update we had in months. I’m very excited to get this installed on my Glass………………. in a few days when I actually have Glass again. I’m waiting for v2 to arrive.

  4. Yes!! I hated using my Glass to text because of that stupid signature.

  5. I can only imagine all the winking at hot girls…”I have something in my eye!”

  6. A “wink” is the amount of time that Glass will last once released into the wild for the general public.
    The novelty will wane soon. :-(
    Make them stand alone, Google!

  7. How’s wink working for you guys? I get it to take a photo only about 1/10 winks or so…. and yes, I calibrated it.

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