The funny thing about Glass is that it is running Android, and there are tons of Android apps out there. The hardware isn’t really designed to run native Android apps the same way a normal touch screen would though, and even when you find Android apps that look alright on Glass you still have to jump through hoops to launch them. GlassBridge takes native Android apps and Bookmarks and allows you to place them in the Timeline UI — so they work the way Glass works– making the whole experience a lot nicer.
As the Glass Explorer program grows and users of the headset continue to figure out the best uses for the hardware, apps like GlassBridge do an amazing job of filling in the blanks that Google left open. From the very start Google made its intentions clear — the company would release their API and then developers would us that to deliver awesomely clever apps just like this one.
The Glass experience is unlike anything else currently available, but it’s still relatively limited. The recent update offered a Glass-friendly browser, with the ability to look at most websites, but the lack of a proper bookmarking system or the ability to login to anything left the experience somewhat lacking, until now.
GlassBridge is pretty hacky at the moment, but it is a great way to explore the limitations of Glass without rooting the headset. You are essentially using the Android Debug Bridge to load an app that syncs with a Glassware app in order to allow a more Glass-friendly set of controls over launching apps and bookmarks.
You start off by connecting Glass to your computer and using the debug mode on Glass to side load the Android applications you want to use on Glass as well as the GlassBridge app. At the same time, you’ll need the web interface for GlassBridge on your computer, as you will use this to create the cards that are added to your Timeline. Once you have the apps installed, you create a card for a browser bookmark or app and push them to your Glass.
Glass will show your cards in your Timeline from newest to oldest, so the cards you just created will be there first. These cards can be used as a one-off that will disappear into your Timeline as newer notifications come in, or they can be pinned to the permanent spots on the left hand side of the mains screen.
If you pin cards here, they are always here and always in front of things like Google Now and settings. This is perfect for apps you want to launch and bookmarks that you will routinely go to on Glass, but the more things you have pinned on the left hand side the more cluttered your UI will get. This is more personal preference than anything else, but it seems like somewhere between three and five cards is the sweet spot before things get annoying.
Now, the apps themselves are an entirely different story. You can find just about any app out there in APK form with the right amount of searching, and you can always extract APKs from your existing hardware with apps, like Titanium Backup, but that requires root access on your phone in order to successfully complete.
The apps themselves will load as completely as possible on the 640×480 display, and you’ll have control over the Android equivalent of the tab and shift-tab functions to navigate the app. This works well for some apps and terribly for others, and there’s really no way to be sure which will happen unless you try it yourself. Pocket Casts, for example, looks great but you can’t navigate to the actual play button for any of the podcasts stored in the app. Some users have had better luck with Google Sky Map, and some very basic usability with Google’s Ingress game.
GlassBridge allows existing Android developers to augment their existing apps to support Glass and offer them up for users to try out. This is not something that most people are going to try out on Glass, but if you know what you’re doing the experience can be quite rewarding.
GlassBridge turns Android apps into Glass apps – Geek (blog)
Android – Google News