Google Glass is still very much a pre-release product, but a new update today (via 9to5Google) edges it closer to a shipping device, thanks to some core functionality additions that you’d expect to see in consumer Google hardware. The “XE5″ update adds inbound notifications from Google+, so you can see direct shares, comments and mentions, as well as comment and +1 those updates. There are also now Hangout notifications, as well as faster transcription, and a long-press to activate search function available throughout the UI.
That’s not all, as there’s also better crash reporting (important if you’re beta testing a product for imminent consumer release) as well as international number dialling and SMS support, better and more accurate battery info reporting, a new sync policy that’s designed to stop you dipping too far into your data policy and your battery life, and general improvements.
Google has been shipping Glass Explorer Edition sets to its initial group of pre-launch customers, who have each had to pay $1,500 for the privilege. So far, the reviews of the pre-launch gadget have been mixed, with tech evangelist Robert Scoble singing its praises on high to anyone who will listen (“1. I will never live a day of my life from now on without it (or a competitor). It’s that significant.” is how he starts his review), to extremely negative thoughts on the subject by entrepreneur Andrew Chen.
Yet all of these opinions are on a device not yet meant for public consumption, and with this update we see how far Google still has to go to get things ready for the big debut. Which, going by recent accounts, is still quite a while off, with a 2014 target date per Eric Schmidt. Watching the update path now is a good way of tracking what Google is focusing on with getting Glass launch-ready, however, and it’s no surprise that it wants to provide deeper hooks to its social networking efforts early in the game.